Standing room only!
Our D2N2 LEP panel session at the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiif) on 17 May was jam-packed with delegates keen to hear from and engage with our panel of business leaders about what the private sector can bring to complement and enhance the newest and largest devolution deal in England.
The D2N2 region, covering Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, has a proud industrial and manufacturing track record and is at the forefront of economic development, with the East Midlands Freeport and the East Midlands Development Company recently established. We are on track to become the home of the UK’s newest and largest combined authority in 2024.
Chaired by Nicolle Ndiweni, Inward Investment and Business Expansion Specialist, Invest in Nottingham, the session took place on the Cinema Stage at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
Nicolle opened the event by introducing our speakers:
- Will Morlidge – Chief Executive, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership
- Andrew Roberts – Regional Head of Acquisitions, Yorkshire & Central, Harworth Group
- Andy Dabbs – Board Director, Whittam Cox Architects
- Sir Chris Haworth – Chairman, East Midlands Development Company
- Ellie Hinds – Business Development Manager, Scape Group
- Steve Wooler – Chief Executive, BWB
Opening remarks were followed by questions posed by Nicolle about the opportunities devolution is set to provide, and what the private sector can bring to complement and enhance the East Midlands devolution deal, set to leverage at least £38m per year over 30 years.
Will talked about devolution providing a “pathway to the East Midlands joining the ‘Premier League’ of regions” and said there was an opportunity to generate value added, like the Liverpool region, that for every £1 of public sector funding invested, generates £5 from the private sector.
Sir Chris said this was “a once in a lifetime opportunity to put the region first, to have unity of purpose amongst our stakeholders, coupled with strong collaboration to necessitate and enable long-term vision (over 30-40 years) and planning on an economic masterplan.”
Andrew agreed and said that the mayor would bring “continuity and remit to focus on the longer term, which would provide a once in a generation opportunity for the region.”
All speakers emphasised the importance of effective collaboration between the public and private sector to drive growth across the region in pursuit of a common goal.
Ellie said this was “an opportunity to build on and enhance the great partnership working that is already happening in the region and to push boundaries, under the umbrella of the Combined Authority.”
Ellie went on to say that planning for devolution necessitated closer collaboration and wider strategic planning capability for the four upper tier authorities and stressed the need to connect with private sector early in the process to enhance collaboration.
Steve added that “devolution provides an opportunity to reconfigure and plan for the long term as a strong, unified voice into Government”.
Andy said this was “a chance to be aspirational; to deliver more funding direct to the region and to pool resources and expertise, to give business long term confidence and to change the perception of the region.” He also stressed the importance of having the right people and skills to deliver on these aspirations.
Following questions from the floor, Nicolle asked speakers for their final take-away message.
Sir Chris said it was all about potential; a major opportunity to deliver change.
Andy said that the East Midlands is a “sleeping giant” and hoped that the East Midlands would be hosting UKREiiF in future.
Ellie talked about the importance of having clear goals and joined-up thinking.
Andrew talked about drawing on the success of existing Combined Authorities to deliver success across the whole region.
The last word from the panel came from Will, who ended the session with a clear ambition, saying “the East Midlands was the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, and I want the East Midlands to be the birthplace of the second industrial revolution.” We wholeheartedly agree with that!
We would like to extend our thanks from D2N2 LEP to our panel chair, Nicolle Ndiweni, and our speakers, Will Morlidge, Sir Chris Haworth, Steve Wooler, Ellie Hinds, Andy Dabbs and Andrew Roberts for delivering such a compelling and insightful session.