WITH its focus on boosting the area’s productivity, more than 200 leaders from the public and private sector attended the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) Annual Conference and heard how more than £90 million had been invested in projects to improve the region’s economy in the last year.
In its annual report SELEP, the business-led body which is responsible for driving and supporting economic growth in East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, highlighted that £94 million had been allocated from the Local Growth Fund and Growing Places Fund to projects that had produced more than 3,600 new jobs and 2,000 new homes in 2018/19.
To date, SELEP has spent over £315m on investment ranging from new motorway junctions, railway stations and sustainable transport to business support and skills. At its Annual Conference, business leaders heard about how this investment is having a real impact in transforming places, developing a skilled workforce to meet businesses needs within the South East and leveraging in further investment by the private sector.
Among the speakers at the Annual Meeting on July 17th, which was held at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London, was the Rt Hon Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS.
Business Minister, Lord Henley said: “I was delighted to be able to speak at SELEP’s AGM, alongside leaders from across the public and private sectors. It was inspiring to hear how the investments being made into the South East are helping drive economic growth and productivity across the region.
“We are working on the development of a Local Industrial Strategy that will build on the many unique strengths of the South East, creating high-quality, well paid jobs and prosperous communities to the benefit of everyone working and living in the region.”
Keynote speaker was David Smith, Economic Editor of the Sunday Times, who highlighted the challenges UK industry faces in improving productivity, including infrastructure, immigration and skills. He was joined by Andrew Carter of Centre for Cities, speaking on the production of Local Industrial Strategies to set the direction in each area for tackling the issue of productivity to drive forward growth.
Speaking after the meeting, Christian Brodie, Chair of SELEP, added: “Thanks to our speakers we were able to focus on the issue of productivity, and see how the theory, when combined with the policy of Government, can be put into practice to support business growth and our area’s communities.
“Our annual report highlights just how successful we as a LEP are at getting funds out of the door, delivering projects and making our economy more resilient to the challenges it will face in the coming year.
“Although we are the largest LEP in terms of our geographical size it is evident that our communities have many issues in common that collectively we are helping to tackle, so improving the lives of the 4.2 million residents and almost 167,000 businesses.”
The event highlighted a number of the success stories from every part of our area where the Local Growth Fund and Growing Places Fund are making significant contributions to job creation and economic growth.
Christian added that SELEP is continuing to work to ensure it is an exemplar of good governance and is meeting Government expectations of transparency and accountability.
He added: “We continue to review our practices to ensure they meet the highest standards of accountability. Our partners – the Government, businesses and the public – must have trust in us and our processes.”
The Annual Meeting was attended by business representatives, education providers and local authorities from across the SELEP area, as well as Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham; Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford; and Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex. (confirm – depending on the day)
Looking forward, Christian Brodie said: “A challenging year ahead will see a redesign of our board operations, but the foundation of strong partnership will be the basis for our continued work and focus to drive sustainable growth for the South East.”
Funding by SELEP has supported the creation of more than 13,000 jobs and 8,500 new homes in its area, since 2015.
More details of the work of SELEP and a copy of its annual report can be found at: www.southeastlep.com.