Building economic growth

A top Government representative came to Bexeyheath to discuss how growth in the economy of the area could be achieved.

Dr Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, met councillors and council officers at the civic offices in Bexleyheath on Thursday to discuss two opportunities to stimulate economic growth in the south-east.

Council leader, Councillor Teresa O’Neill invited the Secretary of State to visit to discuss the case for C2E, which they say will  provide a step change in connectivity for Bexley and the surrounding area, and stimulate significant economic growth with relatively modest public investment.

The team from the council, which also included cabinet members Cllr Linda Bailey and Cllr Alex Sawyer, also briefed the Secretary of State on the proposal for a Place & Making Institute in south Thamesmead, to help tackle the South-east’s growing skills challenge.

“I was delighted the Secretary of State accepted my invitation to visit Bexley and talk about these important issues,” said Cllr O’Neill. “It was clear from our discussion that he is interested in their potential to stimulate investment and growth that would benefit both the local, regional and national economy.”

Dr Fox said: “I was very interested to hear about the work the council and its partners are doing to create new opportunities and improve the transport infrastructure in Bexley and north-west Kent.

The area’s unique position as our gateway to Europe makes it attractive to national and international investors and means it is ideally placed to contribute to the country’s future economic growth.”

Abbey Wood is currently the most easterly Crossrail station in South London, with full services connecting it to Canary Wharf, central and west London due to start in December.

Mr O’Neill said: “Given the scale of investment in Crossrail to date, C2E represents a fairly modest investment that can release valuable housing land and connect growth areas along the Thames with fast, reliable metro-style services.

“It is inconceivable that Bexley and West Kent will not be served by Crossrail services in the way that Essex and Berkshire will be – particularly given the region’s critical role as the country’s gateway to Europe.”

The C2E campaign has the backing of the London Borough of Bexley, Kent County Council, Dartford Borough Council, Gravesham Borough Council and the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, together with MPs from south-east London and Kent.

It will be submitting its latest proposal to the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission in early March. It will then be developing an outline business case setting out how the project could be delivered with local government, central government and private sector contributions, for submission to Government departments later in the year.

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