Influential Whitehall civil servants are on a two day fact-finding mission to Greater Brighton and are being told: We are getting on with business but can do even more with your help.
The Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) is hosting the event hoping the officials will take back to central government a recognition that the city region is fit for purpose and worth further investment.
Improvements to transport infrastructure, help with easing the pressure on housing demand, the potential of the £1bn digital sector were all on the agenda as were tours to stand out projects in the region.
The civil servants were to be taken for a flight on the i360 attraction, shown the Digital Catapult Centre in Brighton, the University of Brighton’s Advanced Engineering Centre and a series of Adur District Council driven developments at Shoreham Harbour, the Tidal Walls and the redevelopment of the old civic centre.
The Greater Brighton City Region is made up of six local authorities Adur District Council, Crawley Borough Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, Lewes District Council, Mid Sussex District Council and Worthing Borough Council.
Already the governing body the Greater Brighton Economic Board (GBEB) has secured £150m of funding for projects in the region since its founding in 2014.
GBEB sees the promotion of the Greater Brighton City Region as a vital way of delivering economic growth and prosperity to the area, promoting it as a coherent unit for investment and development.
It wants the government to help continue helping the region pointing out that productivity is below national average while house prices are 12 times average income and transport infrastructure, vital to economic growth, is poor.
In an address at the start of the first session at the Ricardo Centenary Innovation Centre at Shoreham Brighton and Hove City Council’s Chief Executive Geoff Raw said GBEB was a “coalition of the willing with huge ambitions to make things happen.”
He told the civil servants that Greater Brighton was an economic region in its own right and not simply a “satellite of London”.
And while the area was a highly desirable area to live brimming with potential he added there was a danger of government “misconception that we are an affluent area when it comes to making policy decisions”.
Chairman of GBEB and leader of Lewes District Council, Cllr Andy Smith said: “This is a great opportunity to have our voice heard by some important people in Whitehall.
“By coming together as a Greater Brighton region we have a better chance of bringing coherent strategies on housing, transport and the economy.”