Published in Inspire magazine – January/February edition
A very Happy New Year to you all.
I’m delighted to have been asked to write the introduction for this edition of Inspire magazine, which has the theme ‘Herts 2020’. This is sure to be another important year for Hertfordshire. We anticipate continued good growth across our county, as we keep adapting to huge changes in business, industry and consumer habits – expectations which are affecting the entire UK economy.
It has never been more important to demonstrate that our county is open for business. Through the work of the Hertfordshire Growth Board and the Local Industrial Strategy of the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, we have been charting key proposals and initiatives to secure the county’s growth and prosperity over the next 15 years. Technological advancement and the changing face of our high streets are both significant factors as the process gathers pace of making sure that Hertfordshire can continue to contribute as a leading light in the context of the UK economy for future generations.
Already a home of many leading industries such as life sciences (including the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult), film and television, advanced manufacturing (including Airbus Defence and Space) and retailing (including TK Maxx, Ocado and Tesco), Hertfordshire contributes a significant £37.5billion a year to UK Plc. We continue to work hard to make sure the county becomes even more attractive for business.
The announcement by US media giant Comcast in December, that it plans to build a new 14 stage television and film studio, Sky Studios, Elstree at Borehamwood is a clear sign of Hertfordshire’s continued attractiveness and status as home to the UK’s world-class creative media industry. It also reflects our growth ambitions – we are committed to delivering 100,000 jobs by 2031, including high quality local jobs that are crucial to achieving sustainable growth.
We’re also determined to make our county a sustainable one. We need to play our part in decarbonising energy production, our buildings and our transport system while recognising a user-friendly transport network is fundamental to a strong economy.
We must adapt and transform our town centres, keeping them relevant for our residents, and provide a number of incentives to visit. Embracing the way in which many of us now work, there is the need for the right type of flexible working spaces and leisure facilities, as well as them being excellent places to shop and consume services.
Independent businesses, including specialist retailers, have a huge part to play in ‘new look’ high streets – they often don’t have a huge online presence, and the traditional high street chains are no longer an adequate attraction for shoppers in their own right. Equally crucial for rural communities is the need to have access to fibre broadband and 5G mobile connectivity.
Meanwhile, through our Local Transport Plan, we are making big strides in changing the balance away from cars to walking, cycling and public transport in our town centres. This will enhance people’s wellbeing, benefit the environment and boost the economy in these areas.
Across local government and the public sector, we are firmly committed to working collaboratively to curate and shape our places to meet the expectations of all our residents and businesses over the coming years. Our focus is to ensure the county fulfils its potential for our residents as a great place to live, work and raise a family. 2020 is the next stage of that journey.
Finally, 2020 is the ‘Hertfordshire Year of Culture’, the purpose of which is to celebrate, share and explore Hertfordshire’s arts, culture and heritage. Some key objectives of the event will be showcasing pathways to education, employability and enterprise in the creative and cultural industries and the ability to create new partnerships through sharing skills and new ways of working together. Do look out for Hertfordshire Year of Culture, #HYOC2020, opportunities near you!
I wish all of our residents and businesses a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.
Leader of Hertfordshire County Council
“Across local government and the public sector, we are firmly committed to working collaboratively to curate and shape our places to meet the expectations of all our residents and businesses over the coming years.”
Cllr David Williams, Leader Hertfordshire County Council and Chair, Hertfordshire Growth Board