Company News

Taking the Regional Economic Alliance Forward

The Regional Economic Alliance (REA) was launched during the Autumn of 2018. The REA is a non political not for profit entity designed to rekindle the focus on the East of England and encourage partnership amongst key organisations active across our Region.

Following initial consultations a series of stakeholder engagement lunches were held across the East of England in November 2018. The lunches were held in Norwich, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Stamford and Cambridge. The lunches were attended by 60 people with a further 50 indicating their support for the initiative. Discussion at the lunches and in further meetings held with interested parties focussed on priorities facing the East of England.

In all cases delegates from the public, private, not-for-profit sectors have made significant contributions to the discussion with a range of issues covered. Stakeholders were clear about the issues that need addressing and the dynamics of results to date. Discussions revealed that inevitably similar issues were being experienced across the region, albeit with different depth of impact, but that there was inadequate coordination of effort or sharing of information about them. There was universal support for the REA and agreement that the REA represents a welcome and indeed necessary partnership body for the East of England.

Stakeholders agreed that:

  • The REA should only focus on areas where it can make a difference;
  • The REA should avoid duplication/overlap and should not seek to replicate existing activity;
  • The REA should seek to ‘join the dots’, drive connectivity and unite ‘a collation of the willing’.

It was agreed that more work was required to prioritise the common themes identified and that in due course these should be feedback to stakeholders for further consideration.

This paper therefore seeks to consult with stakeholders across the East of England on the areas that have been identified as initial priorities for the REA, such as:

  • Developing our image
  • Supporting our people
  • Enhancing our economy

Developing our image

The East of England has historically struggled to raise it’s profile, and in comparison with regional competitors such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, struggles for public sector recognition, and in turn investment, yet we have so much to offer.

Recognising the unique characteristics of specific areas in the Region, it is clear that stakeholders want to develop a consistent series of messages and to work together to promote the Region, to shout about what we have and to ask for more of what we need.

The REA will seek to bring together interested stakeholders in order to provide a platform that can support the development of a new regional image and a coalition of the willing to give this a high profile in order to help tackle key strategic issues.

Supporting our people

A consistent theme amongst stakeholders was the need to support our people further. Ideas included giving a greater voice in decision making to young people, helping young people to acquire skills and raise their aspirations, coordinating action on the homeless, doing more to assist our armed forces and encouraging the ‘share my stage’ initiative. Stakeholders felt lack of information, poor coordination and inconsistency conspire to hinder work to help people.

The REA will therefore seek to bring together interested stakeholders to provide a mechanism that encourages more sharing of ideas and information, that works together to develop mechanisms to help people, and that builds momentum around creation of a more effective voice for our people themselves.

Enhancing our economy

It was clear from comments made by stakeholders, that economic development is no longer seen as a priority across the Region. It seems that provision of statutory services and pressure on budgets has eclipsed economic development. Provision of business support has fragmented with resultant inefficiency and duplication, while too often investment has become a competitive rather than a collaborative issue. Cooperation can make a big difference on these and similar issues, yet there is no mechanism to coordinate effort.

The REA will therefore seek to bring together interested stakeholders to provide a network of those active on economic development issues across the Region in order to encourage more sharing of ideas and information, and development of coordinated activity to help business and therefore our regional economy.

The stakeholder community was clear that we need to share information more effectively in order to address these issues. While the move to localism that has been apparent for many years has some benefits, it has resulted in a ‘silo’ based approach to many issues, a failure to communicate and share with neighbours and in some cases unhelpful duplication or even competition. Stakeholders agreed that we need to do much more to ‘join the dots’ across the Region in order to share best practice, learn from each other and help organisations connect more easily. The REA will therefore seek to bring together interested stakeholders to provide a mechanism that can support enhanced connectivity on these and other issues.

The REA will develop task and finish groups to investigate each of the 3 priority areas mentioned above. The role of the task and finish group will be to agree priorities and establish a programme of delivery within the 3 principles the REA will operate to. As the REA is driven by stakeholders, a named stakeholder lead will drive each priority, supported by Advisory groups to form the ‘coalition of the willing’.

The REA will establish an Advisory Board to support the development of the initiative, to shape strategic thinking and help drive the work within each priority area. The Advisory Board will consist of no more than 10 people and will be representative of our Regional geography, people and priorities.

Next Steps

Please contact the REA to confirm if you would like to make a contribution to specific priority areas, or if you would like to join an

Advisory Group or the Advisory Board.

Please do spread the word and let your contacts know about the REA – all are welcome!

Neil Darwin
Chief Executive
Regional Economic Alliance
E: neildarwin@regionaleconomicalliance.com
M: 07860 663234

More Company News

  • Taking the Regional Economic Alliance Forward

    The Regional Economic Alliance (REA) was launched during the Autumn of 2018. The REA is a non political not for profit entity designed to rekindle the focus on the East of England and encourage partnership amongst key organisations active across our Region.