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  • Writer's pictureJames Palmer

Time for the East

What exactly is the East of England? It’s an area slightly smaller than - but with a similar population to - Wales. The East has never been seen as a region; well not since the 6th Century at least, and certainly not since it was incorporated into the Kingdom of England early in the 10th Century. The rivalry between Norfolk and Suffolk has never amounted to much more than light banter and the people of the East have coexisted peacefully over many centuries, creating a healthy economy based not around industrialisation and great urban cities, but around agriculture, education, and innovation. Like anywhere, the East can boast of heroes in politics, the admiralty, and academia - some have changed the world and the way our society lives - but the East has never put itself forward as more than the sum of its parts.

The Eastern Powerhouse aims to do what has never been achieved in the East: to create a narrative for the whole region; a vision for the future prosperity of the people who live here. We are not a public authority or a political organisation. We are not set up to deliver funding or government policy. Our aim is to promote the Eastern Region by raising its profile. As a commonwealth of businesses and local councils, we will be supportive of sustainable business growth, and campaign for investment that shows return. We will work across parties with MPs and members of the House of Lords to increase the influence of the East in parliament. And we will aim to influence government policy. The East of England is home to innovators and entrepreneurs, great scientific and great business minds. In agriculture, technology, and life science, as well as manufacturing and green energy, the East leads the way.

Governments have tended not to look East - voices elsewhere tend to be louder and with more political points to score. Our aim is to redress the balance in favour of investment here. Clearly it will take time to remedy the lack of attention over many decades, but it is important that we take our inspiration by looking at what has been successful elsewhere in the UK. There is no doubt the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine have had a significant effect on government policy in their areas. The West has created its Western Gateway, whilst Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have devolved parliaments. Until now, the East has looked on without a coherent voice and that simply has to change.

The Eastern Powerhouse is business-led, it is democratic, and it will exert considerable influence in Westminster. We will promote the East as a region to do business, not only with government, but internationally too. We are all aware of what an incredible place the East is to live, from the epic flat lands of the Fens to the incredible beaches and Broads of Norfolk, and the undulating hills of Suffolk and Essex. To the naked eye, little may have appeared to change here over the many centuries since the Angles became the English. Yet the East is ready to take on the world. And the Eastern Powerhouse is here to do just that.

James Palmer,

Chair, Eastern Powerhouse


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