Message from new LEP Chair Mark Bretton
As the new Chair of Hertfordshire LEP I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor John Gourd for his tireless commitment to growing the Hertfordshire economy for the benefit of its residents, businesses and future generations.
During his five-year tenure, John secured numerous successes for the county. There are too many to list here but notable ones include:
• Metropolitan Line Extension: this major infrastructure project is now underway after decades of discussion and development;
• Improving transport and reducing congestion: A120 Little Hadham By-pass to tackle a notorious bottleneck, A602 upgrade and a raft of smaller transport packages;
• Regenerating our New Towns: frameworks are in place to revitalise both Stevenage and Hatfield’s town centres;
• Enterprise Zone: this multi-site zone in west Hertfordshire aims to develop the existing enviro-tech sector and attract more businesses to the area;
• The Careers & Enterprise Company: this is now being rolled out across Hertfordshire with the aim of tailoring skills to meet local employers’ needs;
• Hertfordshire Growth Hub: since its launch in March 2015, 530 SMEs in the county have received support, with nearly 200 of these benefitting from in-depth advice from the specialist team;
• Visit Herts: launch of the new official tourism service for Hertfordshire.
As I take over the reins at the LEP the economy overall is in good health with improved productivity levels, low unemployment and one of the highest start-up rates of any LEP area. There is more work to be done: our long term growth rates continue to lag behind other areas and while our start-up rate is impressive they are slower to grow than in other parts of the country.
The impact of the decision to leave the EU remains uncertain but we will continue to work constructively with businesses to understand the challenges and opportunities they face and to ensure that our Strategic Economic Plan is responsive to those needs.
Hertfordshire LEP’s £221.5m investment in infrastructure, innovation, education, skills and business support through its Growth Deal will continue to be implemented to keep growing the local economy.
The LEP has a unique opportunity to build on the solid platform for growth that John as my predecessor has helped create. To that end we have recently submitted our third Growth Deal submission to Government which will build on our priorities to date by calling for investment to regenerate our town centres, stimulate housing growth, safeguard existing high value jobs and create new ones, encourage the growth of businesses and invest in our current and future workforce.
When I came for interview the one key area I felt that the LEP could do even more to stimulate is the skill base of the people who live in our county. As we look forward to shaping what the world of work will be like in the decades ahead our programme will see even more focus on ensuring that businesses in Hertfordshire are able to secure the employees they want locally and that in turn local people see working in the county as a highly attractive option.
Despite all the recent uncertainties I am confident that Hertfordshire has a great future ahead and that the LEP is perfectly placed to take a leading role in so many of the key initiatives that are essential for this success. I look forward to meeting and working with you to make these ambitions a reality.
Chair of Hertfordshire LEP