In his second meeting as Chair of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, Neil Parkin sees swift progress being made by the Board, especially following the submission of a comprehensive Devolution Prospectus to the Government at the beginning of September.  

“I welcome any moves to devolve powers from Whitehall to the City Region, increasing the mastery we have over our own destinies,” Neil says.  “Our Devolution Prospectus – Platforms for Productivity – is quite clear in laying out the scope of the Board’s ambitions for the whole Greater Brighton area.

“The Prospectus provides a real opportunity for the businesses, local authorities and education providers of the Economic Board to focus on three key platforms – Economic Productivity, Social Productivity and Public Service Productivity.  The first platform can be thought of as the infrastructure, space and support needed to help local businesses grow.

“The second platform concentrates on creating the skills needed to grow business throughout the region, bringing together post-16 education options and, perhaps, creating an Apprenticeship company.  In parallel, we have identified a need to provide much needed new housing and a requirement to grow our digital offering to provide state of the art connectivity for residents and businesses alike.

“Our the third platform seeks nothing less than a radical redesign of public services, creating new ways to deliver the services that people need and value.”

“As a result of our comprehensive vision, the Board are now preparing for meetings with Government Ministers to present our proposals in more depth and will be producing more detailed business cases to support each of the platforms we’ve identified.

“Following an invitation from Government, the entire submission was pulled together in under four weeks by the officers working on behalf of the Board – a considerable achievement of which we, and they, should rightly be proud.  We have significant potential throughout our region and we need the right tools from Government to follow it through – I am confident that our Devolution Prospectus presents our case as strongly as possible.

“In addition to the delivery of the Prospectus, we have seen substantial progress on a number of key infrastructure and regeneration projects in the last three months.  A high level ‘pipeline’ of projects has been brought together and will be refined over the coming months.  This is an important step in laying out our vision for how the Board’s work will look ‘on the ground’, and I’m looking forward to seeing this developing further.

“One of our key ambitions is to become a digitally connected region with high levels of online connectivity.  I’m particularly delighted therefore to see that over 600 local businesses have taken advantage of the Broadband Connection Scheme vouchers which were available up until recently.  Having set ourselves the target of bringing 300 businesses into the scheme, I feel that we’ve really made the most of this opportunity and that our business community are going to feel the benefits in the very near future.

“There is still much work to be done but after just my second meeting as Chair of the Board, I can see just how far we’ve come in a short space of time.  In the next few weeks, we’ll be launching our website to share this progress with the wider community – as soon as we do, I’ll be sure to let you know.”