Switch the clocks to boost Suffolk’s economy

CHANGING the clocks to give an extra hour of daylight throughout the year would provide a huge boost to Suffolk's economy, it was claimed last night.

That was the view of the county's most senior MP and a number of business chiefs.

The UK's clocks are currently set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the winter and GMT+1 in summer.

However, an upcoming debate in the House of Commons will discuss the potential of scrapping the need to put the clocks back from October.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo has been a staunch supporter of switching to GMT+1 in winter and GMT+2 in the summer, believing it has a string of benefits – particularly to the tourism industry.

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The sector is recognised as one of the county's key economic drivers, contributing an annual �1.63billion to the county's economy as well as being its biggest employer.

Mr Yeo said: 'I'm delighted another attempt has been made to introduce this. Firstly it would be a huge boost to the economy and particularly the tourist industry.

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'People like to go out and about in daylight and in a county like Suffolk – where a great many jobs depend on tourism – it will be a huge benefit.

'Secondly there is evidence that it reduces accidents – that is absolutely clear.

'Thirdly it will save energy. People will not be so inclined to put as many lights on in rooms if it is lighter outside. That is hugely important.'

The Private Members Bill on Daylight Saving has been tabled by Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, a former adviser to Mr Yeo.

It will be discussed on December 3 and would require the secretary of state to conduct an analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: 'This idea certainly provoked a lot of interest and I would like to hear other people's views before the debate. 'This is an important issue for the Waveney area where the tourist industry is so important and is likely to benefit from additional afternoon daylight hours.'

Bruce Provan, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for skills and economic development, said: 'I think it would be an advantage to businesses in the tourism sector. 'However I know many farmers have raised concerns.'

Stephen Rash, Suffolk council delegate for the National Farmers Union (NFU), said he would prefer the status quo but thought some farmers would like the idea.

'There are some farmers who have reservations but there are also those who would probably support it,' he said. 'Farmers are quite often morning people.

'That's particularly true for livestock, they are better dealt with first thing in the morning.

'Getting up at the crack of dawn in the dark makes life a bit more difficult.'

The idea was also welcome by those working in Suffolk's tourism sector, with Teresa Baggott, landlady of the Red Lion pub in Southwold, saying: 'I would think an extra hour of daylight would encourage people to stay out longer.'

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