Work to create economic plan gets underway

Less than a week after Berwick was awarded prestigious coastal community team status by the Government an ambitious new economic plan for Berwick has been launched.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 08:21
Geoff Paul of Northumberland County Council speaking at a Berwick economic conference.

Business, civic and community leaders met in the town hall and debated which major projects can be developed and then submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government by the end of March.

The projects will form the basis of the Berwick Economic Plan which will now be finalised following further engagement with partners. The Plan will identify deliverable and practical projects aimed at improving the town’s economy in future and potentially help to secure an allocation from the £90million national Coastal Communities Fund as well as other major funding and resources.

The meeting included positive discussions about previous and current initiatives. There was recognition that for Berwick to be successful, a common agenda is needed based on the economic strengths and wider reach of the town. Proposals can then be developed in collaboration with partners in North East England and the Scottish Borders.

Proposals discussed include establishing a better offer to businesses and visitors, and new skills and cultural facilities particularly to support young people in the town. Focus was also on the need to develop regionally significant infrastructure including full dualling of the A1, Berwick Borders Heritage Hub @ the Barracks and assets including the new Enterprise Zone, the Harbour and waterfront, town centre and other important cultural and commercial opportunities.

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The Coastal Community Team for Berwick is currently being established with Berwick Community Trust, Berwick Town Council and Northumberland County Council working together to finalise the set-up plans which will be announced in due course.

Julien Lake, chief executive of Berwick Community Trust, said: “This is an excellent chance for Berwick to set a new course by collaborating and all pulling in one direction. To be a Coastal Community Team means all the key agencies in Berwick working together to make our town grow and prosper. We are looking forward to playing our part in developing this exciting new initiative.”

Cllr Paul Hodgson, Berwick Town Council said: “Partnership through a Coastal Community Team is a well-established model to secure development. This gives Berwick a great chance to drive forward the growth opportunities on the radar thanks to the work undertaken by the town council in preparing the first Neighbourhood Plan for the communities of Berwick, Spittal and Tweedmouth. We are fully behind this new initiative and are looking forward to working together to secure investment for the town.”

Cllr Allan Hepple, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth at Northumberland County Council, said: “The opportunity to develop one plan for growth through the new Coastal Community Team is one that Berwick has grasped with both hands. The county council is fully behind this initiative with our partners in the town. I’m looking forward to building on the Market Towns Initiative, which is already investing in Berwick to deliver further jobs and development.”