The Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) met on Tuesday April 25, 2017, to discuss a packed agenda focused on bringing more investment into the region, which extends from Worthing in the west across to Newhaven and up to East Grinstead. After overseeing his last meeting as GBEB Chairman, Councillor Daniel Humphreys, shares his personal reflection on the progress that’s being made.

You’ve probably heard of the Northern Powerhouse. You may have heard of the Midlands Engine. But very soon I expect you will also know more about the Southern Accelerator.

This is the banner under which the Greater Brighton Economic Board hopes to drive growth throughout our areas.

The term has been universally supported within the Board’s response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The idea is simple – using our power as civic, education and business leaders to focus our energy to propel the region forward.

This was my last meeting as Chairman of the Board. In the last 12 months I have seen first-hand the impact that a joined-up approach can deliver.

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.

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.

Recent months has seen the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership provide over £58 million towards infrastructure and regeneration in Greater Brighton.

This includes projects such as building office space at Adur Civic centre to keep 400 jobs in the area; transport and roads improvements in the Burgess Hill area; and funding towards delivering a new £99 million Life Sciences building at the University of Sussex’s Falmer campus.

In time these schemes, and others, will unlock hundreds of thousands of square metres of employment and housing space, creating jobs, homes and business space for those in our communities.

We are also seeing some major projects come to conclusion. Building work on the Construction Trades Centre at The GB Met further education college in east Brighton is now complete; while the tidal walls scheme at Shoreham and flood alleviation scheme at Newhaven are moving along quickly.

Greater Brighton is also getting bigger, Crawley Borough Council and Gatwick Airport Ltd will be invited to join the board. With their co-operation we can strengthen the existing growth corridor from the coast up to the fringes of the capital.

It means we able to pull in more investment and focus on key infrastructure needs, such as increasing capacity on the Brighton mainline, which is the cause of so much misery to thousands of commuters in our area.

And finally, it would only be right to say a massive congratulations to Brighton and Hove Albion for their promotion to the Premier League.

The Seagulls, in some ways, represent everything that’s good about Greater Brighton – working together across traditional district boundaries to deliver places for our wider communities to thrive while showcasing all that is good on the national stage.

The Albion’s reach extends to the Greater Brighton’s boundary and beyond. The fantastic stadium complex at Falmer straddles parts of Brighton & Hove and Lewes; the state-of-the-art training ground is in Adur; not forgetting that fans flock from every corner of the county to watch Chris Hughton’s team in action.

With the club now competing on the elite stage, it’s a chance to put our region on the national and global map.

It will be a privilege to be part of the civic parade through Brighton and Hove on May 14 to celebrate with all the Seagulls fans.

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