Blogs - 11 March 2020

Elizabeth Fagan: Our vision for Chesterfield

D2N2 Chair Elizabeth Fagan addresses the Celebrate Chesterfield event on the 11th March 2020. In her speech, Elizabeth discusses how D2N2 is supporting Chesterfield with HS2, climate change, and upskilling its workforce. 

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words at this year’s Celebrate Chesterfield event. 

D2N2’s purpose is to support, encourage, and boost the local economy. Our vision for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is of a more prosperous, better connected, increasingly resilient, and highly competitive economy that works for everyone.  

As we begin to shape the vision for our region’s future, we must be ambitious and realise the promising opportunities that will emerge from this uncertain period. 

As the largest town in Derbyshire and the gateway to the Peak District, Chesterfield is at the forefront of that ambition and in a great position to embrace every opportunity.

Our region has been the vanguard of scientific and industrial innovation for more than 200 years. 

Chesterfield’s rich heritage of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit features George Stephenson, not to mention the wool, leather, and mining industries of the 19th century and has led the way in many of those fields. 

It is this legacy that will help to shape not only Chesterfield’s future, but the future of the Midlands and indeed the whole of the UK. 

We’ll need that spirit to take advantage of steps forward in science and technology, helping us to improve connectivity and productivity, and to shape the places where we live. 

As we look forward to the next decade, we will increasingly recognise the importance of our ‘place’.  

Our place is Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire, home to 2.2 million residents with a vibrant blend of cities, towns, and rural areas which collectively form one of the fastest-growing economies in the UK. 

But we are also the heart of England. The heart of transport, the heart of knowledge, the heart of innovation, science, and culture. And so much more. And Chesterfield’s place in the heart of England is critical to the UK’s future growth plans. 

Seven million people live within an hour of the town and an impressive pool of talent stands ready to support the economy. The M1 motorway is on Chesterfield’s doorstep, regular and direct trains operate from the station, four major airports are no more than 90 minutes away, and travel time to central London is less than two hours. 

With connectivity like this, we truly can lay claim to being at the heart of England, our place is our greatest asset. 

HS2 will only enhance that and last month’s announcement that the project will move forward will create further opportunities for the town. 

In addition to building on our already excellent logistics via improved transport infrastructure, rail connectivity, and journey times, HS2 will create new jobs and improve the skills of our working-age population. 

The once in a generation project will also result in the building of new housing and attracting business investment. 

To make the most of this opportunity, D2N2 is investing over six million pounds around the station area to provide greater connectivity between the proposed HS2 station and Chesterfield town centre. 

Speaking of Chesterfield town centre, with a range of partners we are also investing six hundred and fifty thousand pounds worth of funding into the redevelopment of the Chesterfield’s marketplace and the public realm within the Town Centre, aimed at further encouraging inward investment.  

And elsewhere, private and public investment is supporting the delivery of the Northern Gateway and planned enterprise centre. 

In addition and with an eye on increasing tourism, Chesterfield Borough Council has been very pro-active in supporting the development of the Peak Resort proposals. 

As you can see, D2N2 is investing in its residents, its businesses, and the future. 

However, not all of our investments are made of bricks and mortar though, in January of this year, the North Derbyshire Careers Hub was launched in here in Chesterfield and aims to improve aspiration amongst the young people of this area. 

The hub, in collaboration with colleagues at the Careers & Enterprise Company, brings together local schools and businesses for the benefit of young people, transforming careers education for the next generation. 

Together, initiatives like the Careers Hub aspire to offer every person that vital opportunity to unlock their potential, regardless of background, in a changing work of employment. 

That change is already being felt, Talgo UK is bringing advanced rail skills and technology to Chesterfield via its new innovation centre. 

We need to ensure that Chesterfield residents have the expertise, knowledge and skills to make the most of this opportunity and others that the future will bring. 

Arguably the biggest question we face is how we’ll power that tomorrow. 

The economy our children will contribute to will undoubtedly be fuelled by something other than fossil fuels. 

As we collectively move towards the goal of a carbon-free tomorrow, our region has the opportunity to take a leadership role and position as a clean energy bastion. 

The 2008 Climate Change Act made Britain the first country in the world to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’, aiming to cut UK emissions by 34% by 2020, and at least 80% by 2050 through investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. 

It’s our mission to make our region carbon-free and we will work with business, local authorities, education providers, and the third sector to help accomplish it alongside remaining alive to the opportunities a carbon-free environment offers our region: technologically, logistically, and industrially. 

Lasting change is not something that is done to us, rather it is something that can only occur because of us. We all must have a say. 

Collectively, we must take every opportunity available to us, investing in the right things for the benefit of our region and its people. 

Therefore, I implore those in this room and the broader community to continue to engage with us and to help us shape the world we live in.  

You must have your voice heard and feed into the work that we do to ensure it benefits every business, place, and person in Chesterfield and the D2N2 region. 

Your voice is already being heard in our forthcoming Local Industrial Strategy, the Government initiative to build on local strengths and drive growth across the UK, whose evidence base is both substantial and features heavy contributions from our partners from across the region. 

Through our Local Industrial Strategy and its emphasis on the pillars of our region: our legacy, our place, and most of all our people, we’ll deliver our vision of greater productivity and inclusive growth, defining the unique long-term economic opportunities for our region. 

Chesterfield is a town that looks both to Derbyshire but also to Yorkshire so D2N2 will continue to collaborate with our colleagues at Sheffield City Region to provide the Chesterfield area with the best support for its economy.

I look forward to continuing our work together as we look to grow our economy quickly and sustainably, improving both the long-term health of our people and that of our environment. 

I’ll leave you with a thought from Henry Ford about the power of collaboration. 

‘If everybody is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.’ 

Thank you. 

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