The end of the financial year is usually a heady time for many businesses, but we at the Chamber have decided to try and look in the crystal ball and look forward. The news lately has made it a struggle to see what is in store on a national level, but with Adam Bryan, Chief Executive of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), we can start to see a more optimistic vision on an East Sussex/Kent/Essex level.
The SELEP operates to support economic development within the county, with a focus on developing and opening up more job opportunities by accelerating infrastructure projects, partnerships (such as Team East Sussex), and freeing land for homes, they have to make a balance for the over four million people under their purview. That is a lot of work for a small team over a large area, working with over 170,000 businesses.
He came to talk to us about the changes they are going to start going through within their Local Industrial Strategy, and what this means for Hastings (which we can note does not mean traditional industrial, but a modern strategy to represent a modern workforce). This strategy will work to strengthen the LEP, which is soon to be incorporated as to be able to facilitate their renewed mission to help to boost productivity by creating good jobs, increase earning power and confront future challenges like ageing society and clean growth.
As the trusted custodians of the Local Growth Fund, nearly ten percent of £570 million (£54,997,000) pounds of investment from the Local Growth Fund has been spent on the Hastings/Bexhill area (See the full table below). He told us that Hastings was a clear representative of the impact they have thus far, and the business cases from Hastings and the wider area have been exemplary. He knew there is more work to be done, but that we have accomplished so much it was noteworthy to him.
With the change in funding to UK Shared Prosperity Fund and the released Policy Prospectus from central government, SELEP’s mission will be more orientated to business, working with central government to coordinate local economic policy, making and prioritising local action with informed choices and based on clear evidence.
As the structural pillars and their grand challenges are put into place, they have started recruiting their team, working in partnership and with consultants to procure an evidence basis. This will be led by theme rather than commission by commission, for a unified, continual growth.
What does this mean for Hastings? Whilst we have been successful in several projects, we have to draw a leaf from their Economic Strategy Statement, ‘Smarter-Faster-Together’. As the SELEP works on their structure and their priorities, we as businesses within the chamber need to work out our own. In the next few months, it will be integral to inform and guide SELEP about our short term and long term future, as before they can set up the themes, we have to dictate what they truly mean to us as a business community.
On 24th April (last Wednesday of the month), our next Chamber is our April Networking Meeting, being facilitated by long-time member Martin Riley, of Martin Riley Leadership and Business Development. Open to all, this chamber will be open to members as well as non-members, so invitations are definitely encouraged, albeit if they book themselves a place of course.
|Project||Funding allocation||Funding source|
|Coastal Communities Housing Intervention (Hastings)||£667,000||LGF – improving housing in Hastings.|
|East Sussex Strategic Growth Package||£8,200,000||LGF – the project covers the whole of East Sussex, however, does include specific works in Hastings and Bexhill.|
|Sovereign Harbour (includes works in North East Bexhill)||£550,000||LGF – Infrastructure to bring forward business park.|
|Queensway Gateway Road||£10,000,000||LGF – represents investment in the Hastings – Bexhill Growth Corridor.|
|North Bexhill Access Road||£18,600,000||LGF – represents investment in the Hastings – Bexhill Growth Corridor.|
|Bexhill Enterprise Park North||£1,940,000||LGF3b – provisional allocation. Infrastructure required to bring forward the enterprise park.|
|Sidney Little Road Business Incubator Hub||£500,000||LGF3b – provisional allocation. Development of incubator units on currently unused land.|
|Bexhill Business Mall||£6,000,000||GPF – supports delivery of a business mall.|
|Priory Quarter – phase 3||£7,000,000||GPF – provision of office space in Hastings town centre.|
|North Queensway||£1,500,000||GPF – infrastructure works for Business Park in Hastings.|
|Coastal Communities – supplement to the SEP||£40,000||SSF – endorsed by the Board but not yet formally approved. Project will promote investment in coastal areas.|