Leading councillors, council officials and business leaders from across south Essex discussed future plans for the region and heard former deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine speak this week.
The South Essex Growth Summit attracted around a hundred delegates to London Southend Airport, where they were welcomed by Kate Willard from Stobart Group and chair of the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership.
Lord Heseltine, who described himself as a “small businessman” called on the “public and private sectors to work together to ensure the massive fund of money available from the public sector has a full impact on the private sector”.
And the leaders of Thurrock Council, Cllr John Kent, and Southend Council, Cllr Ron Woodley, both emphasised the work that has already been done, the work to do and the importance of the summit’s three themes: growth, transport and education & skills.
Cllr Kent said: “The attendance here this afternoon of Lord Heseltine simply highlights the importance this area still has to the proposals he put forward a couple of decades ago now … the Thames Gateway.
“So I think it is really fitting that we are here in the country’s fastest growing airport to look at the way ahead.
“South Essex not only boasts the fastest growing airport, but the fastest growing port – DP World – and London’s premier port – Tilbury.”
And Cllr Woodley added: “Here in south Essex we are blessed with some unique conditions for growth and our position next to the capital needs to be fully recognised and exploited. In the last year Southend-on-Sea’s Growth Hub has helped around 80 businesses to advance their plans and is helping create over 300 new jobs.
“Together, our offer to Government is strong - we can deliver growth to make a difference for the national economy. It makes sense to back South Essex and together we can make a great business case for investment.”
Both men also highlighted the ambition, drive and opportunity there is in south Essex.
Following Lord Heseltine’s presentation, the delegates discussed the three themes, coming up with what they saw as the specific priorities needed for the whole south Essex region – not just Southend and Thurrock – to prosper and take advantage of the opportunities becoming available.