Agenda item

MP - Question Time


Kevin Hollinrake joined the meeting virtually and highlighted the following;


·         As the Minister for Business for Enterprise and Markets he assured the Committee and the public that he will always be a constituency member of parliament representing the constituency first and foremost.  The impending boundary change will remove Easingwold from the constituency but he was delighted that Bedale and surrounding villages have been brought into the constituency.

·         His focus would be the local economy, as jobs and business opportunities support everything across the constituency and he was keen to make sure the local economy stayed vibrant and that business was force for good.

·         With reference to the matter raised in the public questions, he had an interest in the issue and stated that, although business was a force for good, it should comply with relevant planning applications and relevant regulations that apply and he would hold businesses to account where he could.

·         Our local economy relied on food and farming and it had been a great year which included two visits from the King and Queen to Malton, Yorkshire’s food capital and Pickering, where the NY Moors Railway was a major part of the visitor economy. Events have been held in Westminster to draw attention to North Yorkshire’s produce and he was keen to promote this around the country.

·         Farming remains hugely important. He acknowledged that the new system of direct payment for farmers was causing some pain but it is becoming more generous. He wished to represent the views of the food and farming sector in terms of the impacts of any change eg. the sustainable farming incentive and stewardship schemes becoming more generous and hopefully easier to access.

·         Solar power was important to some farmers, communities and residents and was something that required further clarity from Westminster in terms of solar applications on productive farmland. He was keen to ensure that we didn’t sacrifice food security in name of energy security.

·         Tourism – working closely with towns across the patch including Pickering who was trying to reshape the offering to make it more compelling. Pickering Community Interest Company was doing good work and Totally Locally (a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to promote the high street) was working at a ministerial level.

·         Racing sector was in good health. Went to Malton Open Stables. He was aware of concerns in sector on reforms to gambling and wanted to make sure it doesn’t impact on the sector and that people who gamble responsibly can continue to do so. There was clearly revenue stream for racing from gambling receipts.

·         Engineering –This was a strong sector across patch. There was a very successful engineering apprenticeship fair at the Milton Rooms, Malton and it was hoped this would become an annual event. It brought potential new apprentices into local companies, who had issues recruiting people into the area.

·         A64 – It was disappointing that the roads programme been delayed by 5 years. Assuming that A64 gets the go ahead, the outcome should be known sometime next year. If it did, it wouldn’t start until 2030 but it was positive news that it was still “in the game”.

·         Devolution – Supportive of the deal representing York and North Yorkshire rather than wider Yorkshire area, making sure the economy was vibrant, attracted inward investment and focussed on crime and policing.

·         Local links into the MP’s work as a Minister – Focussed on the hospitality sector, retail sector, access to finance, business support, removing barriers to make it easier to do business. He stated that it was easier to do business when there was growth in the economy, so the news on the economy recently published was welcomed.

·         Work continued with local charities and constituents – The recent constituency surgery was well attended and was hugely varied. Mr Hollinrake assured the Committee that he would continue to fully represent his area, alongside his ministerial duties.


Members then questioned the MP as follows;


·         A member reported that there as an ongoing issue in the constituency area with Post Office van breakdowns causing delays in deliveries. It was felt that the reason for this was that repairs were not undertaken locally and Mr Hollinrake was asked if, as Minister for Business and the Post Office he could encourage the Post Office to arrange for repairs at local garages to minimise disruption to the service. In response, the MP asked to be copied into any correspondence on this matter. He advised that government was taking legislation called the Procurement Bill which sought to make it easier for SMEs to access public sector contracts from such as the NHS, education and local authorities amongst others. He was supportive of a local first approach to procurement at public sector level as it can have a huge local impact and would encourage NYC to seek local suppliers and service providers.

·         A member explained that there were local issues with HGV movements in rural areas and asked what support the government could give to local authorities to address this. The MP stated that this was not always easy as responsibility lay with different bodies. The Local Planning Authority was there to enforce conditions etc but he would always offer support where possible and was happy to help.

A member raised the following questions with the MP;

·         Businesses were struggling uncertainty at the moment and would like clarity on planning applications.

·         The duelling of A64 remains uncertain, which impacts the levelling up agenda – when will this happen?

·         There are worries about the lack of staff in social care, which was impacting on care homes. Does the MP have any comment?

Ø  Mr Hollinrake advised that he was happy for businesses to contact him directly if any business was in a period of uncertainty regarding a planning application. He was aware that there were resourcing issues and it was hoped that LPAs would be able to increase fees to address this.

Ø  Levelling Up - £600 billion would be made available over this parliament and the method of allocating monies had changed to ensure it went to areas like North Yorkshire. The A64 had its own case to make but, although the MP was disappointed that roads programme had been put back, budget issues were a reality. He hoped that next year would be easier as inflation fell.

Ø  Social care staff - We have full employment in the UK, which was a good thing and way we find and attract staff has changed due to Brexit. There was now no free movement but immigration was high and most businesses were finding it easier due to net migration but there was need to make sure that match the skills required. Mr Hollinrake felt that most difficulties were behind us. North Yorkshire had made huge investment in social care but the reality is that there are staffing problems across the country but it was easing. A member of the Committee raised concerns that providers were experiencing difficulties training staff to the standards required and a Council officer explained the recruitment and training opportunities provided by the Council.

·                A member asked what could be done at a national level to improve the CLEUD system and the MP responded that businesses should be compliant and should respect legislation and law. He welcomed ideas on how to prevent abuse of the system.

·                A member asked for an update on the Linton-on-Ouse site and Mr Hollinrake confirmed that he would support the Council and/or the new mayoral authority to find the best solution.

·                A member asked if the recent government announcement on the roll back on commitments to net zero would create uncertainty in investment? The MP advised that he did not believe that uncertainty would be created and there followed a discussion on the energy efficient options for domestic dwellings, particularly in rural areas and the energy efficiency of new developments builders and other businesses.