“Devolution is the biggest opportunity” Norfolk and Suffolk will ever have says LEP chief

Mark Pendlington (LEP) ANL-160922-131139009
Mark Pendlington (LEP) ANL-160922-131139009

The Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Mark Pendlington, has chosen the LEP’s Annual General Meeting to send a clear message to those in the East who have not yet pledged their support for the Devolution Agreement for Norfolk and Suffolk.

A public consultation on the Devolution Agreement for Norfolk and Suffolk closed last month, with a clear majority of those canvassed in support of the principle of Devolution. In addition, business and education leaders representing more than 80,000 employees and learners have backed the deal. Councillors at local authorities across the East will make their final decision in October.

The LEP says the deal on offer from Government would deliver:

* £750 million to the East’s economy over 30 years, driving further investment, job creation and economic growth.

* £130m extra investment for new homes – delivering more than 10,000 houses

* Local control over a £225m transport budget and £20m skills budget

Speaking at the AGM at IP-City Centre in Ipswich today (Tuesday 27 September), Mr Pendlington strongly urged doubters to back the deal and help deliver transformational change to the economy of the East:

“Put simply, this is the biggest opportunity our region has ever – will ever - be granted. Devolution isn’t new of course. We have it already. It is alive and well in the pages of our Strategic Economic Plan and the Impact Report, and in the people, businesses and projects we are financing and supporting.

“It’s what happens when local people are empowered to make important decisions for themselves and about themselves. And that’s just what has happened with devolved powers to the partners that make up the LEP since 2011. Our track record shows we’ve delivered – we’re already a third of the way to reaching our target of 95,000 more jobs by 2026 and halfway towards our target of 10,000 new businesses in the same period. This is simply the next step – but it could be a huge step for us and for the next generation.

“In Devolution, we in the East have the chance to shape our region’s economy, to take more of the big decisions here, locally, where the knowledge is and where the difference will be felt, and of course to tap into an investment that will be truly transformational.

“The majority of councillors and councils support devolution. The LEP board has given it unanimous support. Businesses representing over 80,000 employees, with an annual value to the economy of £8 billion a year, support it. And in recent surveys, the public – voters - support it too. Be this a vote of confidence, or an act of faith, let’s work together to make it the success we deserve.

“Devolution is not a threat; the status quo certainly is. Let’s stick together, trust each other and work with each other to build a Norfolk and Suffolk that is recognised as one of the best places in the world to live, work and learn.”

The AGM also included a presentation on the LEP’s recent review of the impact of its Strategic Economic Plan, in which it pledged to increase its target for new business start-up from 10,000 to 15,000 by 2026 and set a new target to increase the GVA of Suffolk and Norfolk by £14 billion over the next decade.