Greater Brighton is on the up and now wants to focus on a five year plan to bring more jobs and prosperity to the region.
That is the message from the chairman of the city region, Councillor Garry Wall, as he seeks to expand its horizons and raise its profile.
Since inception in 2014 Greater Brighton has helped create, or set in chain plans for, 24,000 jobs, build 18,000 homes and unlocked £2 billion in private sector investment.
The region which covers an area from Gatwick in the north to Brighton in the south and from Worthing in the west to Newhaven in the east is charged with promoting sustainable economic development and growth and co-ordinating inward investment.
So important is the body in making the case to government for investment and for making coordinated coherent cases for investors to come here that Cllr Wall believes it is time to stop being modest about its achievements begin to sell the region to residents, businesses and politicians.
He also wants to stress the important partnership work Greater Brighton undertakes with Coast To Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the government-funded investment body for the wider region.
Cllr Wall, who is also leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “There is a growing level of ambition and aspiration from members of Greater Brighton, a willingness to put our head above the parapet and state the obvious; which is that together we have made a great start at providing the platform for investment and jobs in this place but that we can do much more.”
Now Cllr Wall is asking the governing body of the Greater Brighton region, the Greater Brighton Economic Board, to help come up with a five-year strategic plan to guide the next stage of development.
The focus will be on meeting employment and skills needs for the future; identifying housing needs and affordability; promoting improved infrastructure such as transport, health, education and digital networks and development of an industrial strategy.
The region’s natural beauty, exciting urban experiences, creative and innovative industries are some of the strengths identified for consistent messaging and campaigns over the next five years to demonstrate that Greater Brighton is the best place to live, work and invest.
The move comes amid concerns that government investment vehicles further north such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine are channeling huge amounts of funding into those areas in partnership with directly elected Mayors stealing a march on the region. Greater Brighton needs to become the legitimate voice the region, recognised by local, national and international stakeholders.
Cllr Wall said: “We obviously face a lot of challenges not least that the world is now a different place from when we began. To face these we need to be clearer both about who we are, the benefits we have brought but more importantly what we can do for the region going forward.
“Working together we have a chance to really push the advantages of the Greater Brighton region, its people and its places. The alternative is to do nothing and allow other regions to continue moving ahead on the false assumption that everything is rosy in the Greater Brighton garden.
“We need more help and investment to continue our fantastic contribution to the UK economy. I’m hoping that we can bring forward a five year plan that everyone can get behind. The time for modesty about the importance of Greater Brighton to us all is over.”
The Region is a collaboration of six local authorities, the districts of Mid Sussex, Adur, and Lewes, the boroughs of Worthing and Crawley and the city council of Brighton and Hove, with the chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board being taken by leaders of each on an annual basis.
In addition educations 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.
Now members of those authorities will input into the discussion before a five-year strategy is prepared and be ready early in the New Year.