"Passion, collaboration, and opportunity" dominate first Thames Estuary growth event

by Natalie Vincent Fri 6 October 2017, 1:34 pm

Council representatives from east London, Kent and Essex met with business leaders and major developers at the first-ever Thames Estuary Growth Day event, to discuss how to stimulate growth in the region by working together across borders.

The inaugural Thames Estuary Growth day

Held at Londoneast-uk business park in Dagenham, 230 delegates including members of local authorities, developers and consultants met with ideas for collaboration in making the region the new southern powerhouse. Speeches throughout the morning took place, led by Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council.

He spoke about the political shockwaves in his borough caused in 2006 by the BNP's gain of 12 seats on the council, and his decision to enter politics after this:

"We had left [the] people behind, from the de-industrialisation [of the area]. We were once a proud area that had the largest Ford site outside of Detroit. We were built on being blue collar workers, and our pride was in the history of the work we could do."

He praised the strong economic history of the Thames region: "We'd forgotten that the Thames Estuary corridor was the powerhouse of England. In fact, I'd go one step further and say that it is the powerhouse of the UK. And talking to colleagues of different political persuasions, they also feel that."

Other keynote speakers included John Newbigen CBE, chairman of Creative England, Tony Pidgley, president of the London Chamber of Commernce and Industry, Liam McKay of London City Airport, Mark Quinn of Kent-based developers Quinn Estates and Michela Hancock from US-based rental property developers Greystar. The event was chaired by Arup director Joanna Rowelle, who summed up the event as inspiring "passion, collaboration, and opportunity."

Great focus was given to the potential to expand the creative industries within the Thames Estuary corridor, with Newbigen focusing on the emerging Thames 'production corridor' and the importance of digital industry globally: "This isn't just about London, it's about the whole estuary. The Thames has been the thread that connects London with the riverside communities of Kent and Essex; the fact is that in the future it won't be the river highways that connects our economies, but a digital highway that connects London’s prosperity; it's going to be creativity that will be the driver."

The rapid increase in film productions in Barking and Dagenham was shown in a short film screened by Barking and Dagenham Council’s film office manager Lisa Dee.

"Over the last two years, we have seen a steady increase in film productions wishing to film in the borough including Marvel's Dr Strange, Avengers: Age of Ultron, to high-end TV productions such as Humans, Black Mirror and Lucky Man. What a great time to be part of Barking and Dagenham."

There was also a scaled-down version of Sitematch, a business-to-business "speed-dating" meeting series, three business workshops for development partners, three timed panel discussions on stage, and an interactive zone featuring a live jazz band, gin-tasting and a standing cycle exhibition.

To view our photos from the event, please see our Flickr page

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