Figures from some of the West Midlands' leading businesses gathered at a Conservative Conference fringe event today to discuss job creation and the challenges posed by Brexit.
The business breakfast at the Park Regis Hotel, Birmingham, was organised and hosted by Anthea McIntyre and Daniel Dalton, Conservative MEPs for the West Midlands. Miss McIntyre is also the party's employment spokesman in Brussels.
Speaking in the hotel's 16th-floor "sky loft" which has 360-degree views of the city, West Midlands Mayor And Street said: "If you want to know what business can do - look out there.
"Business is a force for good and business in the West Midlands has put its money where its mouth is by investing in bricks and mortar and creating jobs.
"Since I last spoke at this conference more jobs have been created here than anywhere else."
Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell said: "It needs to be understood that the Tory Party not only understands business but is on business's side."
Speakers included Andrew Churchill of Nuneaton aerospace company JJ Churchill, Matt Lewis of criminal intelligence firm Arquebus Solutions, Michael Worley of West Bromwich engineers William King, and James Stephens from Aston Martin's headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire.
Miss McIntyre said: "The quality and range of views we had from these exceptional business people about their ambitions and concerns was remarkable.
"It has all been noted in detail and I will make sure it is shared with policy-makers and our Brexit negotiators.
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Groundbreaking work at a West Midlands University has been highlighted in the European Parliament for cutting use of pesticides and reducing farming's environmental impact.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, praised the achievements of Harper Adams University in Shropshire and in particular its Centre for Integrated Pest Management.
During a Brussels debate in the Parliament's Agriculture Committee, she said the centre addressed global issues in agriculture, forestry and horticultural crop production.
Miss McIntyre said: "They have undertaken active research in important areas such as pest monitoring, application technology, nematology (the study of worms), plant pathology and weed science.
“There are research projects looking at laser treatment for precisely targeting weeds in farm crops, and at forecasting attacks of pests based on environmental conditions in various crops.
"We mustn't forget that pesticides are a part of integrated pest management (IPM). With everyone’s desire to minimise the use of chemicals, it is very important to encourage the development of precision farming techniques.
"Using precision technologies to apply fertilisers and pesticides within agricultural systems we can reduce environmental impacts and make savings for farmers."
Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, has produced a series of reports promoting the harnessing of advancing technology to enhance yields and create environmental improvements in farming, forestry and horticulture.
She called for further promotion of Integrated Pest Management systems, such as crop rotation and conservation tillage, and alternative approaches with the use of agri-tech, and concluded "There is still a lot of untapped potential for farmers.”
Anthea McIntyre, co-founder of the campaign group West Midlands Together, has condemned attacks against two mosques in Birmingham.
Miss McIntyre said: “These despicable attacks on people at worship were designed to provoke fear and anger.
"Happily the communities targeted showed admirable restraint and dignity, but that does not take away from the nastiness of the hate crime committed.
“This was an act of unreasoning hatred and we can only hope that those responsible are traced and feel the full weight of the law.”
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, founded West Midlands Together with her Labour colleague Neena Gill after a spike in hate crime following the EU referendum.
Disabled people do not just need equal access to public spaces and buildings - they need equal access to the democratic process too.
That was the message from Anthea McIntyre MEP in an impassioned speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, during a debate on involvement of disabled people in the 2019 EU elections.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was speaking after attending the 11th Conference of State Parties to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in New York.
She told MEPs of a session titled Nothing About us Without Us which outlined the steps some countries were taking to ensure everyone can vote – including mobile polling stations, voting in hospital and portable polling booths that can enable a wheelchair user to cast their vote in private.
She said: "As a signatory (to the Convention), the EU and the Member States have a responsibility to take appropriate action to ensure that all 80 million European citizens with disabilities, including those with mental or intellectual disabilities, can fully participate in the electoral process.
"The European Parliament has traditionally been a strong ally in implementing the human rights of persons with disabilities and the 2019 European elections should be no different."
Following the debate she said: "I have said before that you can judge a country's character as well as its progress by its expectations of disabled people. The acid test is whether, and to what degree, disabled people are allowed, helped and expected to participate fully in the democratic process - as voters, politicians, ministers or leaders."
Knife crime and religious tolerance were both on the agenda when the cross-party campaign group West Midlands Together met in Birmingham
Alison Cope, a campaigner against knife crime who is supported by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, spoke of the death of her son Josh who was stabbed through the heart.
She said new campaign groups were springing up every six months - but they were not working together. Children as young as seven were being groomed and exploited by gangs, she said, and young people's preoccupation with social media and video games was fuelling the problem.
Meera Sonecha, from West Midlands Mayor's office, spoke of Andy Street's Faith Action Plan and his determination to be a mayor for every faith community. She said hate crime had affected many people and communities were fearful about expressing their religious identities.
She said the mayor wanted particularly to target hate crime on public transport and was looking at what could be done in respect of cameras and monitoring, and how to achieve better messaging on the subject.
The joint-founder of West Midlands together Anthea McIntyre MEP said: "Violence involving knives is the real curse of our younger generation and we need to do all we can to guide them in the correct way. Alison's message is personal and powerful, it speaks directly to young people and it needs to be heard more widely.
"Meera made clear the mayor's commitment to building good community relations and countering hate crime.
Philip Seccombe, Police and Commissioner for Warwickshire, said: "Most important thing is to make our forces are representative of the community they represent - all communities and groups. That is what will give groups confidence in us."
West Midlands together was founded by Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, and her Labour colleague Neena Gill to foster tolerance and understanding following a spike in hate crime in the wake of the EU referendum.
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