A group of diplomats from across Europe visited Taunton on 11th May 2023 and were presented with a showcase of local expertise and business leadership as part of a new drive to attract overseas investment to the area.
The delegation came to meet with LibDem Parliamentary Candidate for Taunton and Wellington, Gideon Amos, who arranged the visit.
It consisted of Dr Clemens Kohnen (Embassy of Germany), Jerzy Bockowski (Embassy of Poland), Marijn Nordam (Embassy of the Netherlands), Cristina Ruenes Marinas (Embassy of Spain) and Marie-Laure de Bergh (Delegation of the EU).
The group were taken on a visit to the UK Hydrographic Office on the outskirts of the town centre where they heard about the organisation’s work from its Chief Executive, before attending a reception at The Castle Hotel attended by leading figures from local businesses, schools and a range of organisations.
The proprietor, Kit Chapman, welcomed guests saying it was particularly appropriate that the visit should take place on Somerset Day.
He described Taunton as “the jewel of the West Country” and said it was “a great little town” with much to offer.
Mr Amos said that, when he received the offer to welcome the delegation to the town, he jumped at it.
“This is a superb opportunity to showcase Taunton and the many fantastic things we have here.”
He said he was standing for Parliament at the next General Election “because I firmly believe we need a Member of Parliament who will go out and bring investment into our town and the surrounding area.”
Town councillor Nick O’Donnell, Chair of Taunton & Wellington Liberal Democrats, chaired a debate in which a range of speakers told of the many benefits the county town can offer potential investors.
Marie-Laure de Bergh, speaking for the diplomats, expressed how valuable their visit to the UK Hydrographic Office had been.
She added: “We will certainly take away the great location that Taunton has to offer and will be happy to follow up with business contacts, and thank you to Gideon for arranging a really great visit”.
Subjects covered included education, commerce, sport and culture, farming, the charitable sector and the Taunton Garden Town programme.
Speakers included business leaders, school and college heads, and Cllr Tom Deakin, on behalf of Taunton Town Council.
Mr Amos said after the event “We have already begun working with our LibDem Somerset and Taunton Town councils on how we can build on this visit, develop relations with the trade missions of the Embassies involved to stimulate new business, projects and investment to benefit our local economy here in Taunton and Wellington.
We have so much to offer from our education and skills to the quality of life.
This visit’s success means we have got our new programme of work to attract inward investment off to a flying start, something which will remain one of my key priorities”.
Main photograph: Castle group
From left Richard Holt Chair Taunton Chamber of Commerce, Colin Barrell owner of Mr Miles Tearooms, Cllr Mike Rigby Lead Member for Transport & Digital Somerset Council, Dr Eulian Roberts, Cllr Habib Farbahi Somerset Council, Giles Adams Chair of Visit Somerset, Kit Chapman Proprietor The Castle Hotel, Marijn Nordam Embassy of the Netherlands, Tony Laurance Chair of Arts Taunton, Cristina Ruenes Marinas Embassy of Spain, Cllr Nick O’Donnell Chair of Taunton & Wellington Liberal Democrats, Gideon Amos OBE Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate for Taunton & Wellington who hosted the visit, Jim Claydon Chair Taunton Garden Town Delivery Board, Jerzy Bockowski Embassy of Poland, Anthea Kerslake Director of Marketing Bridgwater & Taunton College, Dr. Clemens Kohnen Embassy of Germany, Marie-Laure de Bergh Delegation of the European Union, Ronan Hunter General Manager The Castle Hotel, Cllr Tom Deakin Liberal Democrat Leader of Taunton Town Council and Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts Lead Member for Communities Housing and Culture.