Lord Heseltine is to establish a Thames Estuary Growth Commission after it was announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget.
It is understood that the Commission will look at how best to reinvigorate and regenerate the economy on both sides of the Thames and foster closer ties with London.
The new Commission will focus on supporting the development of high productivity clusters in specific locations, and examine how the area can develop, attract and retain skilled workers.
While the detail still has to be finalised on how the Commission will operate, top of Lord Heseltine’s ‘to do list’ will inevitably be delivering new infrastructure for the area, including the new Lower Thames Crossing, to support new jobs and homes.
The appointment has been welcomed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP), which believes the involvement of Lord Heseltine will be a boost for the region’s profile in Whitehall and with the Treasury.
George Kieffer, Acting Chair of SE LEP, said: “There is nobody who is better qualified in the context of both the Thames Gateway and regeneration than Lord Heseltine.
“The economy of the Thames estuary is integral to the long-term prosperity of the UK, thanks to its ports and trade links to mainland Europe.
“The timing of the Commission’s announcement sends a positive message to everybody in the area that the Government is committed to ensuring communities east of London realise their full economic and social potential.”
Throughout the Kent part of the SE LEP, and within Thames Gateway, a number of significant economic drivers have been identified including Ebbsfleet Garden City, London Paramount, North Kent Innovation Zone, and Kent Science Park, plus developments in Medway and Swale directly on the estuary and planned growth of key sectors such as creative and cultural industries.
George Kieffer added: “We hope to show Lord Heseltine the region at the earliest opportunity and outline the case for a new Lower Thames Crossing which we are actively encouraging business views on at the moment plus other key pieces of transport infrastructure highlighted in the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership’s recent work.”
As a business-focused organisation, SE LEP champions the economic wellbeing of
Kent, East Sussex, Essex, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, through the partnership of public and private sector organisations.
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