Clean growth, creating world-class digital infrastructure and tackling transport issues – those are the priorities of the new chairman of Greater Brighton as he pledged to continue to push for investment in and recognition of the City Region.
Cllr Dan Humphreys, who is also leader of Worthing Borough Council, was voted in as the figurehead for the City Region and its near one million residents at a board meeting this week (July 16, 2019).
In setting out his ambition for the next 12 months, Cllr Humphreys said he was proud of the achievements of Greater Brighton so far, pointing to the more than £150 million of funding it had secured since being founded five years ago.
He added that it was up to the new board to build on these foundations to ensure this functioning economic area – stretching from Brighton north to Gatwick and across much of the Sussex coast – continued to thrive.
Central to that was promoting the region’s identity and strengths to a wider audience while ensuring a united voice for investment was presented by representatives of the area to key decision makers in the government.
Speaking after being voted in by his peers, Cllr Humphreys said: “In the time I have been involved with Greater Brighton it has come a long way. We are growing, with Crawley joining last year and Arun coming on board soon, which means we are getting to the stage where we can really start to compete with the larger city regions of the north and midlands.
“With a population of nearly one million, three fantastic universities and an excellent skills base it is clear that we can continue to do some great things in our area.
“Greater Brighton is all about recognising that the economy knows no boundaries. We all have shared housing, transport and employment needs which can only be addressed by working together. The whole really is greater than the sum of the parts.
“Brighton and Gatwick are our two biggest international brands so we must continue to use those to get our message across a national audience but we have but so much more going on across our own communities that we can tease out.”
Greater Brighton, which was formed in 2014, is home to more than 900,000 people with 340,000 jobs in 40,000 businesses creating a diverse, vibrant, economic community.
It is made up of six local authority areas across Sussex – the districts of Mid Sussex, Adur, and Lewes; the boroughs of Worthing and Crawley; and the city council of Brighton & Hove. Arun District Council, which covers the towns of Bognor, Littlehampton and Arundel, is also set to join in the coming year.
In addition, education providers the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College are on the board as are several business partnerships and other bodies including Gatwick Airport and the South Downs National Park Authority.
The Centre for Cities has rated the City Region in the top five for jobs growth in the last 10 years and 37,000 more jobs are expected to be created by 2030.
Cllr Humphreys said among his priorities for the next year included ensuring ‘clean growth’ – which looked to create homes and jobs while protecting the environment for future generations; supporting the creative and digital industries, which is one area where Greater Brighton is leading the way on across Europe; and improving transport infrastructure, particularly the key issues of the Brighton Mainline and A27.
Cllr Humphreys said: “I hope everyone on the board share those priorities and believe we can crack on and do fantastic things over the next few months.”
Cllr Humphreys welcomed the new members of the board, which include Cllr Nancy Platts (Leader of Brighton & Hove); Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty (Leader of the Opposition, Brighton & Hove); Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards (Leader of Mid Sussex) and Cllr Zoe Nicholson (Leader of Lewes)
He then praised his predecessor Cllr Garry Wall, the outgoing leader of Mid Sussex District Council, for his work over the last 12 months.
Cllr Humphreys said: “Garry brought real energy to the role and was instrumental in developing a five year vision for the City Region which gives us some crucial things to work towards as a collective.
“I’m looking forward to working with partners to build on that and deliver on the things that matter for our residents and businesses.”