Saturday, February 24, 2024

Supercharge East: It’s time to power up East Anglia

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Contributing more than £35.5bn to the UK plc each year and boasting an incredible 62,000 independent enterprises, Norfolk and Suffolk hold their own on the UK’s business stage.

Eastern Daily Press: Fiscal indicators by region 2021/22. Source: ONSFiscal indicators by region 2021/22. Source: ONS (Image: ONS)

Our tourism sector generates more than £10bn annually, we have a fast-growing network of tech and innovation hubs, and our hardworking farmers grow more than half of the vegetables in the UK.

Not only this, but our coastline is the beating heart of the nation’s renewable energy industry, with 43pc of the country’s offshore wind generated on our shores and one of the country’s most important nuclear power plants on the horizon.

Eastern Daily Press: The number of visits (000) to each region in 2023. Source: Visit BritainThe number of visits (000) to each region in 2023. Source: Visit Britain (Image: Newsquest)

Since 2010 our economy has grown by 9pc, far outstripping most other “powerhouse” areas and defying lazy stereotypes about the region being backwards or sleepy.

And yet, despite all of this, the government has repeatedly overlooked us.

Eastern Daily Press: Current and capital spedning per person, by region of the UK. Source: ONSCurrent and capital spedning per person, by region of the UK. Source: ONS (Image: ONS)

Public spending in the East of England is some of the lowest in the country, at just over £10,000 per head in 2023.

That’s more than 10pc lower than the UK average and a whopping 20.5pc lower than London.

The reasons for this are numerous and complex. There have been times when our MPs have let down the business community. There have been times that we have not helped ourselves.

This newspaper has long argued this state of affairs cannot continue. And the incredible economic challenges we’ve all faced over the past three years have only confirmed the urgency with which we must act.

That is why today we are launching Supercharge East.

Eastern Daily Press: Supercharge East launches todaySupercharge East launches today (Image: Newsquest)

It’s time to take a bold manifesto all the way to the steps of Number 10.

As they enter the fight for Downing Street, we are calling on our two biggest political parties to get behind this endeavour and empower our fine region to finally start delivering against our potential.

It is our job to hold our elected representatives to account. There will be no holding back. The fight for our future starts today.

The point of Supercharge East is to demand better.

We know exactly what this region needs to flourish, and with the help of our vital partners Greater Anglia and Norse Group, we are ready to stand up for you and your businesses, no matter its size or scope.

In the coming days we will fully outline what we need from government to ensure our region is not left behind. 

Eastern Daily Press: Richard Porritt, editor of the Eastern Daily PressRichard Porritt, editor of the Eastern Daily Press (Image: Newsquest)

Editor of the Eastern Daily Press, Richard Porritt, said: “The time for ‘just getting by’ is behind us. I believe we can do more than that.

“This manifesto is a roadmap for those in charge to power up East Anglia to ensure we thrive long term. 

“Our business community deserves better. And that is what this will demand.”

Eastern Daily Press: Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at Greater AngliaJonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at Greater Anglia (Image: Newsquest)

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at Greater Anglia, said: “At Greater Anglia, we’re passionate about playing our part in helping our region thrive for everyone who lives, works and visits here.

“The replacement of our entire fleet with brand new trains was a transformative step in delivering a better, more punctual service for customers and stakeholders across our network.

“But further investment is necessary in our rail infrastructure if we are to fully realise the potential not just of our rail network, but also the wider economy.

“By constructively highlighting the key priorities for East Anglia, not just in transport, but in all the key areas that are important to our region, we can try to ensure that whoever wins the next election provides suitable investment in our region – especially given our positive contribution to national economic growth.   

“We look forward to working with the EDP and Norse to make a compelling case for the next government to ensure it provides the support and investment our region deserves.”

Eastern Daily Press: Norse Group CEO Justin GallifordNorse Group CEO Justin Galliford (Image: Norse Group)

Norse Group CEO Justin Galliford said: “The East of England is an economic powerhouse, making a significant contribution to the country, and it is important that the government recognises this, and provides investment which means continued success.

“I am delighted to support Supercharge East, an important initiative which sets out what our region needs to ensure resilience, connectivity and sustainability, and I am proud that Norse Group is able to make a contribution.

“Through its manifesto the EDP is giving a voice to the region’s business community, and this year’s business festival will showcase the diversity and strength of the sector.”

Each week between now and the general election we will be focusing on a different aspect that impacts the eastern region. 

Supercharge East is brought to you in association with Eastern Daily Press, Norse Group and Greater Anglia. 

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