Hampshire County Council

Executive Member for Economic Development

17 June 2002

Review of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES)

Report of the Head of Economic Development

Contact: John Rees-Evans, ext 6628

1.

Summary

The following decision is sought:

Approval for the Executive Member for Economic Development to authorise the response of the County Council to the review of the Regional Economic Strategy, in consultation with the Head of Economic Development; the final draft is to be agreed and submitted by the end of June, after consultation with interested Departments.

2.

Reason

The County Council in its corporate strategy states its commitment to economic prosperity. The contribution to the economic success of the south east region by the county of Hampshire, and the whole of the County Council is significant. It is essential that the Council's views are put to the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

3.

Other Options considered and rejected

The Council's response will help the effectiveness of the Strategy. No response would imply no interest.

4.

Conflicts of Interest declared by the decision maker or a member or officer consulted

None.

5.

Dispensation granted by the Standards Committee

Not applicable.

6.

Reason(s) for the matter being dealt with if urgent

Not applicable.

Approved by:- Date:-

Cllr M J Woodhall

Hampshire County Council

Executive Member for Economic Development

17 June 2002

Review of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES)

Report of the Head of Economic Development

Contact: John Rees-Evans, ext 6628

1.

Background

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is reviewing the "Regional Economic Strategy" for the south east. It has circulated a draft strategy amongst the key stakeholders, including Hampshire County Council, with a request for responses by the end of June.

The Head of Economic Development has requested comment from all the major Departments of the Council so that a corporate response may be made. To date, comments have been received from the County Surveyor, the County Planning Officer, and the Head of IT Services. Comment from the Director of Recreation & Heritage and the Tourism Manager is expected by 15 June.

2.

The SEEDA Strategy

2.1

The Strategy focuses on achieving sustainable economic growth. Whilst still aspiring to be a "high performing Region", it is acknowledged that factors such as the quality of life and the environment make an essential contribution to the region's success. This is a welcome reflection of the need to link the conservation and management of our natural resources with economic policy.

2.2

Disparities and Diversity

The Strategy recognises the need for local approaches, depending on local economic need. However, it does specifically identify five "Priority Areas":

a.

"Areas of economic success"

b.

"Thames Gateway, Kent"

c.

"Other priority regeneration areas"

d.

"Other areas outside major regeneration areas" and

e.

Priority Rural Areas.

Areas of Hampshire referred to under the above designation are:

Category a:-

- Blackwater Valley (incl. north east Hampshire)

- South Hampshire (Havant to the River Test).

Category c:-

- Southampton, Portsmouth and south east Hampshire.

These designations will impact on resources deployed by SEEDA especially in the context of the 119 most deprived wards, which it is targeting.

2.3

Assumptions

The Strategy makes a number of assumptions on which its targets are based. They include:-

- continuing Government funding to match levels of service in other regions and taking into account the higher costs of the south east

- maintaining SEEDA's proportion of national RDA funding

- implementation of the ten year transport plan

- flexible and supportive planning policies

- disposal of public sector assets being allowed to meet local economic or social need rather than always having to obtain "best price"

3.

Commentary

3.1

General Comments

3.1.1

In general, the strategy sets out clear and well-focused policies, which this Council as a key strategic partner fully supports.

3.1.2

The emphasis on sustainability and diverse responses to local need is welcome. This will need to be reflected in a variety of measures beyond the previous standard of GDP per head.

3.1.3

There is some confusion about the designation of particular areas in the region. We would welcome clearer designation which can be used consistently in economic, social, transport and planning policies.

3.1.4

For example, most of south Hampshire is included both in areas of success and in priority regeneration areas. The County Council believes that the capacity for regeneration in south Hampshire is broadly linked to the economic success of the area. Regeneration funding should therefore be flexibly applied and not completely restricted to the most deprived wards. The Area Investment Frameworks for south east Hampshire and the Southampton area should recognise this need for flexibility.

3.2

Business and Investment

3.2.1

The County Council has been an active participant and contributor to the Hampshire Economic Partnership consultations, from the conference on

6 February to the Board meeting on 30 May. It fully supports the HEP submission appended to this report (Appendix 1).

3.2.2

The County Council would also like to see strong recognition of the needs of manufacturing industry and action to support its success.

3.2.3

In encouraging new investment, the Strategy should have regard to the need also for businesses, which employ unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Inward investment should meet local needs rather than contribute further pressures on labour and land supply.

3.3

Transport

3.3.1

In general, the County Council believes that SEEDA could bring more influence to bear on the business community and its understanding of the critical issue of congestion. One particular initiative, the development of Workplace Travel Plans, should be supported regionally by SEEDA.

3.3.2

Alleviation of traffic congestion is a complex long term process. The Strategy should give clear support to the continuing need for transport investment as well as traffic constraints in the form of pricing and regulation. Hampshire County Council for example has a road maintenance backlog of ca £50m and has identified more than £2b of investment requirements.

The Council would welcome the opportunity to discuss both the investment needs and possible "regulatory" action with SEEDA. We particularly draw attention to the lack of emphasis on the vital role of the South Hampshire Rapid Transit concept (SHRT).

3.3.3

The Strategy should apply its recognition of health in equalities also to transport, and especially inter relationships between rural and urban, and different parts of the region.

3.3.4

The three strategic transport authorities in Hampshire are working closely together to develop an innovative concept called "Integrated Management" to deliver integrated transport solutions. This has been acknowledged by the draft Regional Transport Strategy and a policy included to cover this initiative. It would be helpful if a complementary approach was adopted by the RES and the County Council would welcome the opportunity to facilitate further discussions with SEEDA and SEERA to help take this concept forward in partnerships with the other local authorities and the local business community.

3.3.5

The Strategy should give more recognition to the role of regional airports (especially the hub concept policy included in the Regional Transport Strategy) and to the transport linkages with the ports of Portsmouth and Southampton.

3.3.6

The RES should draw attention to business opportunities arising out of new transport initiatives.

3.4

Planning and environment

3.4.1

Affordable housing is a key issue. SEEDA can give leadership to business, by encouraging employers to provide some housing. The Council will work with SEEDA to help develop actions to address this issue.

3.4.2

Reference to the region's environmental assets should refer specifically to the proposed new National parks, New Forest and South Downs.

3.4.3

There needs to be more reference to the changing face of agriculture, its need to diversify and its impact on the landscape.

3.4.4

Caution should be exercised in alluding to the opportunities presented by redundant buildings in rural areas. Such developments will need to be supported by appropriate infrastructure.

3.4.5

There should be more recognition of climate change in the Strategy. This can impact on issues relating to water supply and management, and energy production, where there are opportunities in the region for more renewable energy development. Future reviews of the Strategy should bring in more consideration of the long term effects of climate change.

4.

Creative and Cultural Industries

(To follow, based on consultant's report).

5.

Learning and Skills

(Awaiting Education response.)

6.

Conclusion

The County Council welcomes the review of the Regional Economic Strategy. It supports the broad thrust of its policies, particularly the commitment to sustainable development, rather than growth for growth's sake.

The Council looks forward to the Strategy reflecting the specific points it has made in this response and to playing an active role in supporting the implementation of the strategy.

The Council is also particularly keen to see a close linkage between the priorities in SEEDA's Economic Strategy and Area Investment Framework and those being developed by the "sub-regional partnership" (Hampshire Economic Partnership) and Local Strategic Partnerships in Hampshire.

Background Papers:-

Draft Regional Economic Strategy (SEEDA)

JRD65602