As the new year draws ever closer, Kishor Tailor reflects on what has been a momentous year for the Humber region.
Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture has provided the area with many highlights, with prosperity following and a feeling of optimism increasingly apparent amongst locals, visitors and investors.
The legacy of 2017 has been an increasing focus as the turn of the New Year approaches, and many will look to the Humber’s four local authorities and its partners for guidance at this time.
We can certainly look back on 2017 with a sense of achievement. Despite the uncertainties over Brexit, the Humber economy has continued to perform well, as we end the year with highest levels of employment since 1975 and the lowest level of unemployment. Still, there remains a challenge with our productivity which continues to perform well below national and regional averages.
There is no doubt that the issue of Brexit has been a dominant force throughout the year, and is something that will continue to dominate business decisions for a number of years to come. This issue is likely to define our modern government and will be forever associated with the year 2017.
Amongst this economic uncertainty the Humber region has much to be proud of and we must continue with the work that we have started thus far. Our three key priorities; Skills, Business Development and Infrastructure improvements remain at the head of our agenda, as we look to drive the growth of the Humber economy for the benefit of its communities.
In July we held our Annual General Meeting on the south-bank of the river Humber, and showcased our Annual Review to our partners. This event was well received by all who attended and shed light on the Humber economy and the work carried out during the financial year.
Our panel of speakers at our LEP AGM made clear reference to the government’s Industrial Strategy and how we at the LEP would be working to respond to benefit our region. We at the Humber LEP have been discussing the implications of the government’s approach over the last year and have submitted a detailed response to their earlier consultation.
Now that the government has released its Industrial Strategy White Paper, we are looking forward to producing a Local Industrial Strategy for the Humber, building on the success of our existing strategy around the Energy Estuary.
As the Energy Estuary, we realise that we are now a key player in the UK’s global energy strategy and have made great progress this year in delivering and supporting a number of energy projects.
We have innovative and strategic pilots in place to support such projects; the likes of the Single Conversation Group have been designed to aid in the communication between statutory bodies at the earliest and often most complicated part of planning and project delivery.
Investment from the LEP’s Growth Deal project was instrumental in facilitating the development and building of the likes of Hull Venue, a state of the art conference and performance venue. Work on the £36.2m, 3,500-capacity venue began on site with £3.5m worth of LEP support.
Funding through the Growth Deal has lent its support to revitalising Hull’s Old Town, and has also brought a new lease of life to Trinity Indoor Market and the surrounding public spaces.
Moreover, the issue of flood risk alleviation continues to be of critical importance, given the area’s geographical circumstances. In light of this, 2017 saw the completion of a 520 metre-long glass panelled flood barrier at Paull, East Yorkshire, providing much-needed protection to over 14,000 homes.
Similarly, the initial groundwork has been laid for the Lincolnshire Lakes Flood Defence Scheme, which will support a 6,000 home development.
Additionally, the past twelve months have proved to be a ground-breaking where our Employment and Skills developments are concerned, as we have worked at all levels of skills developments, working with Schools, Further Education, Higher Education and with employers.
One of our achievements this year has seen the confirmation that the Humber LEP is now a Licensed Awarding Body for the Quality in Careers Standard. One of twelve national license holders, we are the only Local Enterprise Partnership to have been awarded this status, after submitting a strong application to the Quality in Careers Standard Consortium.
As a result the 21 local schools, colleges and training organisations that have met our standards have also been validated at national level. Needless to say, we hope this list will continue to grow with our help and guidance.
Overall, I am pleased with the progress that our region has made over the past twelve months and I am mindful that our work at the LEP must continue, in order to drive growth.
The Humber’s reign as the Energy Estuary is one that must we must prolong with investment, communication with local government and our partners and strategic discussion, through pilots like the Single Conversation Group.
I am confident in our ability to facilitate sustainable growth in our region, working with our four local authorities to drive inward investment.
We want to ensure that we build on those successes and develop our Industrial Strategy that will provide a framework for the long term growth of the Humber’s economy.