(Strategic Partnerships Specialist) To consider the attached report (AMED-004-2019/20).
The Strategic Partner Specialist & Economic Lead presented an update report to the Cabinet Committee on a number of projects and issues being explored by the Economic Development Team.
The Economic Development Officer updated the Cabinet Committee with the latest developments on the Economic Strategy. The discussion paper on developing an economic strategy – ‘Nurturing Growth’ – was being revised for a further consultation ending in mid-December. A special Stakeholder Conference had been organised for 13 November 2019 at Theydon Bois Village Hall, to give local partners further opportunity to influence the Strategy. The Conference would be workshop based and focused on the themes contained within the Strategy. One-to-one meetings had also been held with the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce.
The Strategic Partner Specialist informed the Cabinet Committee that the Herts & Essex Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) had recently approved a number of changes to better enable it to deliver its Work Programme and the development of a delivery plan for the Digital Innovation Strategy. The Programme Manager for the DIZ was continuing to progress the operational issues with the delivery of the Local Full Fibre Network programme, which would deliver enhanced fibre connectivity within the Zone. The DIZ website was due to be upgraded to enable the promotion of upcoming DIZ events, and this would be supported by the concurrent development of a social media presence for the DIZ.
The Strategic Partner Specialist stated that visits to the Tourism website continued to grow. Officers had continued to lead on cross-border collaboration for tourism development with Broxbourne Borough and Harlow, East Herts and Uttlesford District Councils. A major focus of this cross-border work would be the development of a bid for the new Tourism Zones initiative introduced by the Government. This year’s Tourism Conference had been scheduled for 5 December 2019, and would once again be hosted and sponsored by the Marriot Hotel in Waltham Abbey. Ministerial departments had been contacted to provide a speaker to update the Conference delegates on the Tourism Sector Deal and the launch of Tourism Zones.
Councillor N Bedford, as Chairman of the Green Arc Project, reminded the Cabinet Committee that the Project aimed to promote and co-ordinate investment in green infrastructure running from the Thames to Barnet. The aim of the Project was to increase and protect tree canopy / coverage, develop corridors to allow residents and visitors to enjoy the green areas, and encourage community involvement in planting programmes. The ultimate objective of the project was to plant sufficient trees to offset carbon emissions.
The Strategic Partner Specialist responded to questions from the Cabinet Committee by stating that different types of trees varied in the amount of carbon that they absorbed depending on their location, and certain types of trees assisted with flood alleviation as they could soak up more water than others. The project was looking to unlock the potential of residents to help plant the extra trees, and persuade major employers of their corporate and social responsibility to provide funding for the purchase of new trees. Although, it was emphasised that the problem was usually finding sufficient places to plant the additional trees rather the purchase of new trees. It would be necessary to work in collaboration with others to derive real value from this initiative. In terms of the developing Economic Strategy, it was expected that the final version of the Strategy would be submitted to the Cabinet Committee in January 2020.
Councillor N Bedford reiterated that the types of trees and their location was important, with some trees especially suited to being planted in flood zones and that the problem was usually trying to find the land to plant the extra trees. However, the Councillor was hopeful that farmers could be persuaded to diversify and allow more trees to be planted on their land, and that there was also the potential to plant more trees on land owned by the National Health Service and also around Stansted Airport. Councillor Stavrou commented that she was pleased to see a project that was first mooted 20 years ago was now making an impact and producing real results.
(1) That the progress made by the Economic Development Team with their current initiatives be noted.
Reasons for Decision:
To appraise the Cabinet Committee on the progress made with Economic Development issues.
Other Options Considered and Rejected:
None, as the report is for information only.