The South East England Partnership Board has today agreed its project plan and consultation programme for the South East England Strategy, taking the first steps towards a new vision for the future of South East England.
The board, which is a partnership of local councillors and the regional development agency, is responsible for developing a 20-year strategy for South East England that will plan for economic growth, transport, housing, work-related skills and the environment. The strategy will combine and build on the best of the existing Regional Economic Strategy and South East Plan to make the region a more prosperous place to live, work and invest.
Having signed off the project plan and consultation strategy at its meeting today, the Partnership Board can now officially begin the process of preparing the new South East England Strategy. The immediate focus will be on six topics crucial to the South East’s success over the next 20 years:
Economic growth and technological innovation
Climate change and a low carbon society
Funding for infrastructure and investment
Tackling housing affordability
Demographic change and an ageing population
Dealing with economic disadvantage
These ‘hot topics’ will also be debated at two major Partnership Board workshops this month that will shape the progress of the South East England Strategy. As well as local councillors and business people, representatives from social and environmental groups will come together at Lingfield Park, East Sussex (11 February) and at Reading Town Hall (23 February) for the Future of the South East debates.
Partnership Board chairman, Rob Douglas, chairman of SEEDA, said:
"A lot has changed since the current regional strategies were published and it is vital we respond to these challenges so we can continue to manage our economy and maintain the South East’s status as the powerhouse of ‘UK PLC’.
"The project plan is a significant milestone for us and the workshops later this month will help us to gather feedback from representative groups on the issues that really matter to people in the South East. By working together on these six key topics, we will deliver a strategy that works for everyone and offers the best way forward to maintain economic competitiveness and quality of life."
Cllr Paul Carter, chairman of South East England Councils, said:
"This is an opportunity for council leaders across the South East to work with the development agency board members to grapple with the big issues facing the region today – the need to support economic growth, encourage investment in skills and infrastructure and bring our current regional strategies together into a single vision for the future."