Motion

Economic development and diversity

Proposer: James Sandbach (Chair, Policy Committee), Seconder: John Shreeve

Conference notes that whilst the East of England is a highly successful region, with over 3.3 million jobs, above average employment and educational achievement and health, and is at the forefront of innovation and research in key sectors (eg, tech, finance, pharmaceuticals, green energy) there is sustained regional inequality.

We are a region of contrasts with significant deprivation, often within coastal and rural communities and rising poverty levels within major towns (eg Luton, Peterborough) alongside some of the UK’s most successful places and ‘economic corridors’. The challenges of an ageing population, housing affordability, rural isolation, access to skills, transport, digital connectivity, and infrastructure needs are not being met and the Government’s failed levelling-up agenda does nothing to address intra-regional inequality.

Conference also notes the particular challenges of coastal communities; 2021 Census data shows that of the ten local authority areas in the region with the lowest growth rates, seven are in the coastal strip from Kings Lynn to Southend. At the same time this concentrated ‘hot spot’ success has led to problems of housing and services provision, congestion and pressure on infrastructure.

Conference therefore adopts the following priorities for the future of our region to take the opportunities and spread them across the region by:

  1. Improving East-West rail and public transport infrastructure.
  2. Inter authority co-ordination of planning to ensure the spread of success.
  3. Coastal regeneration through closer business contacts fostered by local authorities with the economic dynamism shown in the Cambridge and Norwich Science park areas.
  4. Creating an A14 / A11 enterprise corridor,
  5. Creation of twinned enterprise zones around the region.
  6. A regional devolution settlement to provide greater equity in distribution of resources.
  7. Better integration of housing, planning, highways and economic development and skills hubs at local government level.
  8. Opening up our sea links with mainland Europe.
  9. Develop our Town Centres as hubs for sustainable business and skills.
Offshore wind turbines

Amendments are welcome and should be emailed to conference@eastlibdems.org.uk by 4pm on Wednesday 1 November. Amendments selected by the Conference Committee will be debated at conference.