THE importance of south Essex for bringing investment and wealth into the country was highlighted on Thursday (8 January), when Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt visited the area.
The minister’s visit started in Southend and moved westwards, to include the London Gateway port and High House Production Park.
In Thurrock the minister was joined by deputy leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Barbara Rice and chief executive Graham Farrant.
Cllr Rice said: “We stressed the importance of south Essex – and Thurrock in particular – to the future prosperity of the country as a whole.
“The county council’s disappointing decision to pull out of the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership means that all the local councils, led by Thurrock and Southend as the unitaries, need to work together to maintain the progress we have already made.
“The partnership brings local councils together with local businesses in a united front.
“In Thurrock alone we’re looking at a Â£6 billion investment from the private sector through the growth hubs at the Thames Enterprise Park, London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury, Grays, Lakeside and Purfleet – we had a fascinating presentation about the future of Purfleet while at High House.
“It is imperative Thurrock and Southend take the lead and ensure government is on board with us in keeping our hard-earned momentum going and there is an important discussion about this at cabinet next week.”
The council’s chief executive Graham Farrant, added: “Thurrock, Southend and the area in-between is a vital part of the nation’s economic powerhouse and the visit of Penny Mourdant highlights the importance the government places on south Essex and the investment being delivered by the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership in particular.”
During her visit, the minister heard updates about and visited some of the sites where development is happening across south Essex.
A round table discussion was held at High House Production Park where partners from across TGSE spoke about the area’s potential and specific issues such as transport, the Lower Thames Crossing and seeking support for bids to the Local Growth Fund.
Cllr Rice said: “I have no doubt the minister went away with a clear impression of ambition across the whole of Thames Gateway South Essex and Thurrock. Here we have a strong and committed partnership between public and private sectors, something the government should support to ensure it thrives.”
And Charles Meaby, director at DP World London Gateway, said: “We were very pleased to show the minister the world-class facilities we have at DP World London Gateway, including our quay cranes which are the tallest in the world, to show her how the project is evolving and how we have integrated into the South Essex community.
“We look forward to Government plans for further improving infrastructure in the Thames Gateway region, such as the widening of the A13.”