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Collaborating for growth – Hertfordshire doing things differently

Published: 17 July 2020Closeup of laptop with screen showing Webinar title pageCollaborating for growth

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The first of a series of webinars took place this week setting out the aims and ambitions of Hertfordshire Growth Board. 

The event on Thursday 16 July, titled Collaborating for growth – Hertfordshire doing things differently, served as an introduction to the work of Hertfordshire Growth Board and covered how and why it was formed, its membership and priorities for the future. 

Over 150 people from across local and central government and businesses attended this special hour-long event hosted by The Voice of Authority (TVoA) and sponsored by leading UK construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall, based in Welwyn Garden City.

Speakers included Cllr David Williams, Chair, Hertfordshire Growth Board and Leader, Hertfordshire County Council; Rob Bridge, CEO at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and lead CEO, Hertfordshire Growth Board; Patsy Dell, Director, Hertfordshire Growth, Hertfordshire Growth Board and Matt Partridge, CEO, Stevenage Borough Council. The webinar was sponsored by leading UK construction and regeneration group Morgan Sindall, based in Welwyn Garden City.

Hertfordshire Growth Board comprises Hertfordshire County Council, the county’s 10 district and borough councils and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Its 12 members have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signalling Hertfordshire’s commitment to collaborative working and getting things done.

In his opening remarks, Cllr David Williams said: ‘Hertfordshire has an excellent track record of partnership working across two-tier local government, the Local Enterprise Partnership, health, further and higher education and the constabulary. The Growth Board builds on these excellent relationships.’

It also, said Rob Bridge, CEO, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, displayed a ‘great amount of ambition’ with its 11 local authority members plus the LEP speaking to Government with a much ‘stronger voice in order to do what is right for their communities’. 

By appointing a dedicated director, Patsy Dell, the Growth Board had shown a real commitment and consensus in joining up place-based growth and economic recovery and was, said Matt Partridge, CEO Stevenage Borough Council, a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to shape future wealth-building for all areas of the county. 

During the webinar, a series of live polls were conducted with 78% of those who responded saying that the Growth Board model should be adopted by other counties. Asked what should be the aims and objectives of the Growth Board, 27% said it should concentrate on delivery of infrastructure, with 25% saying it should focus on economic recovery and growth. The biggest growth challenge, according to attendees, was providing for new infrastructure and services (33%) followed by delivering new homes (28%). 

The first webinar has been timed to coincide with the launch of HGB’s new website:

Patsy Dell, Director, Hertfordshire Growth, Hertfordshire Growth Board, said: “A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes over the past two years to bring Hertfordshire together to manage the scale of the growth challenge facing Hertfordshire over the next decade. These webinars and the launch of the new website provide an opportunity to set out how the Growth Board will deliver that growth and help our communities flourish and fulfil their potential. 

‘That need for collaboration and consensus is even greater now as we recover from the testing times the county is experiencing because of COVID-19.’

Two further Hertfordshire Growth Board webinars are planned. On 13 August, it will cover COVID-19 economic recovery planning – the wider growth strategy for Hertfordshire. This will set out some of the work HGB partner Hertfordshire LEP is doing to revise the Local Industrial Strategy and rapidly develop an Economic Recovery Plan with key partners across local and central government, business, education and the third sector. The final webinar on 10 September will focus on how HGB can support development and delivery during Hertfordshire’s long-term recovery. 

Toby Fox, 3Fox managing director, said: “It is rare to work with a county so committed to collaborating in such a genuine and progressive way, and determined to drive a shared vision forward. We are very excited to be facilitating these webinars for Hertfordshire Growth Board as it communicates its ambitions, especially during this current situation.” 

View the webinar recording and full report with live polling results.