There’s lots of talk about the Northern Powerhouse and devolution of powers to northern cities in the media at the moment. I wonder how many people – even locally – realise that we have our own potential South Coast Powerhouse emerging in the form of Greater Brighton?
Greater Brighton is the City Deal area covering the coast from Worthing through Brighton and Hove to Newhaven, and taking in parts of the South Downs National Park as well as Lewes, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and East Grinstead. It is home to 677,000 people and it provides 283,000 jobs.
The Greater Brighton City Deal aims to spread the effects of the most successful parts of the economy across the whole area, give the private sector the confidence to invest, and bring together the public and private sectors to create a “seamless framework” for economic growth. It’s said the Deal should unlock more than £170 million of investment here, and create another 8,500 jobs.
In a nutshell, the vision is for our area to become “one of the highest-performing urban economies in the UK”.
It’s a tall order … but the partners have already won Government backing for their plans, and a new Greater Brighton Economic Board is being formed that will work with Coast to Capital – the Local Enterprise Partnership – and with the Government agencies to implement the ambitious City Deal programme.
This is exciting stuff. There’s no doubt in my mind about the power of partnership to bring about lasting change in the economy for the benefit of local communities. I’m a great believer in “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job has been helping to reinvigorate the city’s Quality Bus Partnership, which is going from strength to strength.
Of course, as an employer of 1,200+ people, and a service provider to a huge percentage of the population, we’ve got a vested interest in the success of the city region’s economy. And I’m acutely aware that the services we run – more than 50 million passenger journeys a year – are part of that essential infrastructure that oils the city region’s wheels.
It’s why we’ve just invested £6 million in our new Coaster fleet: high-tech, state-of-the-art buses with record-breaking eco-efficiency, high-quality contemporary interiors, and free WiFi for passengers. Running every 10 minutes from Brighton – out along the coast and cliffs, and through part of the National Park – they’re our latest contribution to the city region’s exciting future.