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Ian Mean column: a new economic strategy

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By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucester director

Driven by innovation, built on heritage is an excellent descriptive headline to Gloucestershire’s new economic strategy for the next ten years until 2034.

It encompasses the key assets of Gloucestershire and provides a timely, long term vision of what we need to achieve as a county.

In short, we need to create a more inclusive, greener economy, supported by an action plan to deliver the priorities over the coming years.

A strategy , according to my Oxford Dictionary, is “a plan for achieving a major goal”.

And here’s the challenge. How do we achieve that goal when this new strategy must  involve the views of all our six district councils?

Will it have enough teeth?

At the heart of the plan, which has taken something like five years to develop, is sustainable growth. Extremely difficult to achieve.

With the disappearance of GFirstLEP after 13 years, delivery of the plan now falls to a new Economic Growth Board, which will be chaired by the leader of the County Council, Mark Hawthorne.

He is an experienced local politician who I believe will not throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to developing plans as GfirstLEP did pretty successfully.

But the voice of local business must be heard loud and clear in the constitution and operation of this new board.

It must not in any way be perceived as a county council puppet.

I am, therefore, pleased that GFirstLEP’s business sector groups are being retained under the new board  and expanded together with the county’s Growth Hubs.

Over the past 20 years editing newspapers in this region, I have campaigned to encourage more opportunities for young people-particularly through apprenticeships.

That work must continue and increase through the county council with our excellent Further Education colleges.

Skills and their encouragement -so much part of Gloucestershire’s heritage-must be front and centre of this new strategy.

None of this vision for the next ten years will be achieved without some dynamic leadership. In partnership, our businesses and councillors must rise to the challenge.

*For a link to the summary of the Gloucestershire Economic Strategy go to:

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/documents/s99628/For%20Cabinet%20-%20Cabinet%20Report%20-%20Adoption%20of%20Economic%20Strategy%20%Appendix%20A1.pdf

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