Finley Structures managing director and ROF 59
creator John Finley
Businesses discussed the pros and cons of staying in or leaving the European Union at ROF 59 activity centre on Aycliffe Business Park this week.
Andy Preston, a successful businessman and founder of the Middlesbrough & Teesside Philanthropic Foundation and CEO Sleepout charities, is an ambassador for the North East Britain Stronger IN Europe campaign. He told guests why he thought staying in the EU is important to Newton Aycliffe.
Aycliffe Business Park is the largest industrial estate in the North-East, home to more than 300 businesses and more than 9,000 employees.
“If we leave Europe, we do not know what will happen,” said Preston. “We don’t know what the government will do and we don’t know what Europe will do. What we do know is that businesses are already seeing a slowdown, people are putting off making decisions, some projects are not happening. I’ve spoken to a couple of people in Newton Aycliffe, and they’ve talked about projects that are on hold and might stall.
Clearly, for some businesses it will be harder to export to the EU and that will mean less business coming into the park, it will mean fewer jobs and less prosperity.
Among the guests was Finley Structures managing director John Finley, who built ROF 59 partly in homage to the Aycliffe Angels who worked at the munitions factories during the war, which included his mother and grandmother.
John said: “I don’t think people in Britain appreciate how well off we are. We’ve come a long, long way since the wars, and now we have a lot of wealth and opportunities, but there’s a real risk of losing that.
“Immigration does need controlling and I don’t think anyone doubts that, but voting to leave the EU isn’t going to solve that problem – it’s a much more complex issue involving a number of factors, and I think our best bet is to remain.”
Preston added: “Britain should be showing some leadership and working with its neighbours, and saying to them ‘we’ve got to stick together and come up with a plan to sort our collective problems out’.
“We’ve got major challenges, and Britain needs to show some leadership, like we did during the second World War, sort out Europe’s problems and help to make the whole of Europe a better place.”