'Eastern Powerhouse' to boost regional economy to launch on Tuesday

James Palmer

James Palmer will chair the Eastern Powerhouse. - Credit: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

A new business-led body to boost the economy of the East of England is to be launched on Tuesday evening at Parliament.

The Eastern Powerhouse will speak out for the region, aiming to maximise its untapped economic potential.

The new body will aim to follow the success of bodies in the North of England and Midlands in being a voice for their areas and garner government attention and funding.

It will represent an area including Norfolk, Suffolk, north Essex, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire.

The new body is being led by James Palmer, former mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, who said: "The aim is to promote the East of England as a place for investment and business development."

He said that the region was often added in with London and the South East and was effectively ignored.

Increased focus and investment in the area for it to meet its full potential could see £31bn in economic growth or gross value added and an increase tax take for the Treasury of £11.5bn.

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Mr Palmer said that the advisory board of the Eastern Powerhouse would be announced over the next few days but company members include Lotus Cars and brewery group Adnams.

He pointed out that under the government's Levelling Up agenda the East of England, which has a population of six million, would receive £87m plus £287m for town centres, while Scotland with a population of five million would receive £1.5bn.

He said: "In the last Budget, the north of England was mentioned 18 times but the East wasn't mentioned at all."

He said the Eastern Powerhouse would not be a funding body and would not seek funds from government but it would be independent, funded by its members.

He said: "Our job is to influence government policy to benefit the economy of the East of England."

It would make case for investment in the area to boost economic growth, improve transport and infrastructure and raise skills and attract and support the development of businesses.

He said that the East of England has many 'jewels in its crown' and the task was to promote those and get them working better together for the benefit of the region as a whole.