Leaders across the Greater Brighton region are calling for a helping hand to boost growth and transform it into a leading economic player across the UK.
First there was the Northern Powerhouse, then there was the Midlands Engine – now representatives across parts of Sussex are urging the government to recognise the Southern Accelerator.
It is aimed at pulling in millions of pounds of investment to drive forward growth and create thousands of jobs across the Greater Brighton region.
Civic, education and business leaders gave their backing to the concept at a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) in Worthing Town Hall on Tuesday April 25.
The call is part of the board’s response to the government’s industrial strategy.
Councillor Dan Humphreys, chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, said:
“The idea is simple – using our power as civic, education and business leaders to focus our energy to propel the region forward.
“From Worthing to Newhaven, Brighton up to East Grinstead, across the region we already have so many of the ingredients needed for an economy that delivers better outcomes for everyone.
“We have a highly qualified workforce, we have the will from leaders, and we are very well connected.
“What we need now is to put the foot on the accelerator to enable us to compete alongside the likes of London on a national and international stage.”
According to the response, the Southern Accelerator would “provide an overarching vision for the region within which other structures, strategies and bids would sit”.
The board believes that relatively modest interventions in road, rail and digital infrastructure would lead to a big improvement in productivity and growth across Greater Brighton.
Extra funding could also unlock essential housing and employment floorspace across the region, which stretches across a 15 mile radius from Worthing across to Newhaven, Brighton up to Mid Sussex.
Whitehall officials have responded to the idea favourably, with civil servants planning a visit to find out more about the concept.
Cllr Humphreys, who is also leader of Worthing Borough Council, said:
“The timing for jump-starting our economy has never been better. The regional economy is strong. Business growth rates are improving. Plus the government is willing to give the provinces more power and, more importantly, funding to deliver real change.
“Investment in housing, transport and supporting further and higher education could make all the difference to the region as a whole, especially if we brand it under a single banner.
“That’s why I’m delighted to say that Whitehall officials are already showing an interest in the idea and are willing to visit to find out more to take the proposal forward.
“It is yet another example of how Greater Brighton is making great strides in such a short space of time.”
Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, who proposed the idea, said:
“I’m delighted that my proposal to encompass the city region’s growth potential as the Southern Accelerator has been agreed by the Greater Brighton Economic Board.”
At the same meeting, the board also agreed to explore incorporating Crawley Borough Council and Gatwick Airport Ltd into the city region.
The belief is that by extending the influence north, GBEB can strengthen the existing growth corridor from the coast up to the fringes of the capital.
Since being formed three years ago, GBEB has already brought more than £90 million of government funding into the region.
These projects will deliver a total investment of £376 million, unlocking an estimated 14,000 jobs, 8,200 homes and 450,000sqm of employment floorspace.
For more details visit www.greaterbrighton.com.