The Haven Gateway Partnership (HGP) held its Annual Meeting at Harwich International Port (HIP) on 4 September by kind invitation of Hutchison Ports UK Ltd (HPUK), a core partner of HGP, with the keynote speech given by Peter Jones CBE, the recently appointed Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

A two day visit to Essex by Peter Jones saw him meet with business and local authority leaders of the Haven Gateway area and cutting the turf for Parkside Village at the University of Essex, supported by the Growing Places Fund, administered by SELEP. He also met with Harwich Haven Authority.

George Kieffer, Chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership opened the meeting with a brief review of activities during the past year. Andrew Harston, Development Director of HPUK and Chief Operating Officer of HIP and Thamesport, then gave an overview of the significant investment made by HPUK in their port facilities in the Haven Gateway and the position of Harwich as the largest port for offshore renewable energy on the East coast, as well as the third busiest cruise port in the UK with the largest number of calls by cruise ships ever this year.

Following this, the Partnership's Executive Director, Steve Clarke, launched the campaign to upgrade the A120 as the nationally important connection between two international gateways in Essex at Harwich and Stansted and as a driver for economic growth and job creation. He introduced Adala Leeson and Helen Bowkett from Peter Brett Associates who spoke about their work on an economic study of the route. The campaign has attracted the support of Members of Parliament along its length, including The Hon Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & North Essex), Sir Bob Russell (Colchester), Brooks Newmark (Braintree), Priti Patel (Witham), The Rt Hon Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden) as well as local authority leaders. It is backed by business along its length from Stansted Airport, BT, Wilkin & Sons, Associated British Ports, HPUK, Harwich Dock Company, Surya World Food Company and over 30 other businesses, as well a through press campaigns by the East Anglian Daily Times. A number of planning applications are in development or have been submitted, including Tendring Europark, which will deliver the economic growth and job creation which is so important to the UK as it emerges from recession.

Peter Jones congratulated the partnership on its outstanding work and offered to help it achieve its aims. He went on to suggest that rail as well as road improvements were needed to realise the full potential of the port and the airport: “I hope to persuade our partners to promote the extension of high speed rail from Kent to Essex to link the port, airport and principal towns into a network fit for growth in the twenty-first century. This may mean that a new Thames crossing needs to be both road and rail and that we absolutely must have a least one new runway at Stansted. The LEP partners need to raise their sights and bring forward major transformational projects for the £2bn a year promised to LEPs by Government over the rest of this decade and also to start raising serious external funding.”

George Kieffer, Chairman of HGP and Vice Chair (Essex) of SELEP, added: “We are grateful to Peter for visiting the Haven Gateway, the first of his visits since he took over as Chair of SELEP last month. We have been able to show him the significant investment made by the private sector and the economic potential of the area and we look forward to working with him and colleagues across SELEP to realise this potential for the benefit of local residents as well as the national economy.”

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership is a partnership of private and public sector leaders working together to create the most enterprising economy in England. It covers East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.

It is the largest strategic partnership of its kind outside London. It represents a combined population of 3.9 million people and is home to more than 130,000 businesses, which provide more than 1.3 million jobs. It is a critical port and gateway area in a strategic location between London, Europe and the global economy.
The area covered by the LEP an economic powerhouse contributing £63 billion a year to the national economy.
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