Bank agent goes Business Class

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More than 160 business leaders from across Cornwall attended the latest Stephens Scown Business Class event in St Austell, where the guest speaker was Kevin Butler, Bank of England Agent for the South West.

Butler looked back on the last 18 months, which saw global financial turmoil and a steep and synchronised worldwide downturn in the second half of 2008, leading to a much deeper recession than in the early 1990s.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee responded by cutting its interest rate to the lowest level in the Bank’s history and followed this with the introduction of an unprecedented £200 billion stimulus package of quantitative easing.

He said that the Bank’s November Inflation Report indicated that the economy was probably on the road to recovery but cautioned that the recovery would be protracted.

Andy Steele, chief executive of Stephens Scown, said: “Kevin gave us a unique overview of the economic crisis and how central banks and governments have reacted to it, and the overall message was one of optimism for the future with growth projected to hit 2% next year and 4% in 2011, albeit from a very low base.

“Our Business Class events are designed to be topical and relevant to our clients in the same way that our legal services respond to their needs, so we were delighted to have so many people attend.”

The event, which was staged at St Austell’s White River Cinema, also featured a presentation from Sam Weller, sales director for the £30 million Cornwall Hotel Spa and Estate at Tregorrick near St Austell, which officially opens in February.

He outlined how St Austell had turned a corner thanks to continued investment in the area, including the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Eden Project, St Austell College and more recently the town’s £75 million White River Place retail development, which opened in October.

He said St Austell and clay country were priorities for investment by the European Convergence Programme and the proposed eco-town development by Imerys and its development partner Orascom would see a 25-year programme of investment into the area.

The event concluded with a question and answer session that also featured James Staughton, managing director of St Austell Brewery, which was earlier this year named UK Regional Brewer of the Year.