A united vision that will shape the future of Essex over the next two decades launched today with the backing of more than 50 major organisations.
The Future of Essex is a shared vision for everyone who calls Essex home and aims to address the long-term needs of residents and businesses up to 2035.
It launched today with a video featuring more than 75 people from Essex, from a seventh generation oysterman from Mersea Island and the coastguards at Brightlingsea, to the Essex horticulturalist who grew the UK’s largest pumpkin and the world’s smallest theatre, all of whom are joining the movement to champion the motto, “Change is unstoppable. And so are we.”
“The purpose of the Future of Essex is to give the many different communities, groups and businesses in our county a way to plan our future together. To unite us in setting out the kind of Essex we want to live in and focus on the big things that matter to all of us,” said David Finch, Chair of Essex Partners, a countywide partnership of senior leaders from across a range of public sector bodies, universities and the voluntary and community sector.
“The vision recognises that change is unstoppable. So, we will make it happen on our terms. Essex is one of the best places to live in the world. But too many people still do not experience the best of Essex. Too few people have benefitted from a growing economy. The gap in life expectancy across our county is still too large and not all of our children get the same opportunities in life as their peers.
“We will harness the Essex spirit and its people – our boldness, our cheek, our loyalty and fierce independence - and make it contagious, embrace the new and celebrate our differences. We will create a county where every single person has the support, the opportunity, and the self-belief to fulfil the promise of their potential and we will do it together.”
The vision, which encompasses ideas from residents, businesses and community and voluntary organisations from every corner of the county, outlines seven shared ambitions to help the county’s evolution over the next 18 years:
Unite behind a sense of identity, enjoy life long into old age, provide an equal foundation for every child, strengthen communities through participation, develop our county sustainably, connect us to each other and the world, and share prosperity with everyone.
Alison Stevens, Chief Executive of Farleigh Hospice and Chair of The Essex VCS Alliance, an organisation working to strengthen the county’s voluntary sector, said: “We want Essex people to live happy, healthy lives, build lasting social connections and contribute to future-proofing the areas in which they live. The Future of Essex recognises that Essex has strong communities of active residents who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves, each other and the places they live and reminds us all that to effect lasting change we need to take personal responsibility for the future of the county and that collectively we can achieve so much.”
Dr Andrew Sentance, Chair of the Essex Economic Commission, provided the keynote address at the launch of The Future of Essex.
He said: “Essex has the potential to become one of the strongest and fastest growing economies in the UK. We are close to London, with good international transport links through ports and airports. There is a strong enterprise culture, with a good track record for starting up new businesses.
“To realise the full potential of our economy we need to enable businesses to grow more easily. That means ensuring they have access to the skills and infrastructure they need, including commercial premises, road and rail links and high speed broadband connections. That is the key to developing high quality jobs and attracting economic prosperity to the Essex economy.”