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Local authorities must provide leadership to drive growth

Penny Thompson
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Local authorities must provide leadership to be instrumental in growth and development.

This is now a core part of our purpose as it drives individual wellbeing and city-wide ambition. We have the skills and capacity to drive change. I believe we should also show we have the confidence.

For example, Brighton & Hove City Council has recently seen two big developments. The creation of an ‘innovation quarter’ and the i360 observation tower attraction on the seafront are under way. These will regenerate key areas of the city and add vibrant ventures at the heart of our communities.

Officers and organisations must be open, inclusive and hardworking to make the most of new possibilities. It was by using this forward-thinking approach that we finalised the Greater Brighton city deal, an agreement that offers massive potential for developing and protecting the local area.

The deal will bring partners together from across the city region, working to secure a vibrant local economy that will provide jobs, culture, education and housing to more than 600,000 people. As part of the deal, our city regeneration team successfully bid for £83.4m to kick-start projects within the area.

In Shoreham and Newhaven, tidal walls and flood defences will be built thanks to deal funding. This will benefit the local economy by unlocking key developmental space. 

The deal will also help inject resources into our growing digital industry, which is globally recognised for bringing major inward investment. Efforts here include:

  • A £24.5m investment in the flagship New England House, with an extra 7,000m² of floor space for creative-tech businesses
  • £173m of investment in the medium term, creating a network of growth centres across the city region
  • A £1.8m integrated business support programme across the Greater Brighton and wider Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Local authorities must also lead partnerships. We led the successful bid to become a Unesco world biosphere site. Our efforts to improve our local environment will now take place on the world’s stage.

However, we are stronger when we work together. As part of the key cities group, Brighton & Hove links with other stakeholders to explore the roles of individual areas in boosting the economic prosperity of the country. We support one another, share knowledge and best practice, while innovating and developing new thinking.

We will face increasing demand with fewer resources in future. We need to listen and prepare to ensure our organisation is fit for citizens and the city.

Respect and collaboration will be central to our approach. It is clear respect and collaboration have driven our successful ventures so far, and will shape how we manage the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Penny Thompson, chief executive, Brighton & Hove City Council



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