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Company bosses and ambassadors have voiced fears about whether the upcoming General Election could influence support for plans to boost economic growth in Kent.
The county’s business community has put its weight behind a bid for £1.2bn of cash from the Treasury, which it says will create to £10bn of growth, jobs and housing between 2015 and 2021.
Key leaders from business, local government and education discussed the proposals set out in the Growth Plan at a meeting of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) in the Village Hotel, Maidstone, this week.
Submitted to the Government in April, it sets out how to tackle economic issues in Kent, Essex and East Sussex.
The plan aims to generate 200,000 new jobs and deliver 100,000 new homes, as well as transforming transport and business infrastructure over the next six years.
With the General Election less than a year away, some business leaders are concerned the political will to deliver this kind of investment and business support may weaken.
SELEP chairman Peter Jones said: “The Kent economy, like that of Essex and East Sussex, is showing reassuring signs of growth.
“There will be some difficult, and potentially unpopular decisions to make in the coming months, but we hope that the Government will have the courage of its convictions to stand shoulder to shoulder with business and support the South East...” - SELEP chairman Peter Jones
“It is now vital that the Government backs the vision, developed and signed-up to by local businesses in partnership with the area’s local authorities, to deliver real economic growth.
“There will be some difficult, and potentially unpopular decisions to make in the coming months, but we hope that the Government will have the courage of its convictions to stand shoulder to shoulder with business and support the South East.”
SELEP vice chair Geoff Miles said: “The business case behind the South East Plan is a compelling one.
“Government is helping to create the right environment for growth, it is then down to business to deliver the all-important jobs and innovation, and we are up to the task.
“For every £1 invested by Government, the SELEP economy would unlock an additional £9 of investment to support the wider UK economy, which given the need to secure sustainable growth must be attractive to the Treasury and Ministers.”
The Government is expected to make an announcement on the SELEP Growth Plan next month.
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