Garness Group backs the devolution deal

The managing director of a business which has been at the heart of development and investment into Hull and the East Riding for more than 25 years says a devolution deal is an opportunity the region ‘must take’ – or face being ‘forgotten’ in the future.

David Garness, Garness Group

David Garness, managing director of the Garness Group, says the recent Government announcement for a Mayoral Combined Authority could mark the start of ‘exciting times’ for the region.

And, in issuing a clear message of his own support for the proposals, he has encouraged all to play their part during an eight-week public consultation, which opened yesterday (January 2nd).

“As someone who has run a business which is heavily involved in the development of the region for more than two decades, I have seen how we have long required a collective approach when it comes to prosperity, progress and inward investment,” said Mr Garness.

“People have often said we are the ‘forgotten region’ – the place at the end of the line which never gets Government support and funding. Well now the Government is holding out its hand to lift us up and onto a level playing field with others. It is the opportunity we must take.”

A chance to build upon our thriving industries

The Government wants every part of England to have a devolution deal by 2030.

In announcing the plans in its Autumn Statement, the Government highlighted growth opportunities in Hull and the East Riding in manufacturing, chemicals, low carbon technologies, health technologies, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, food and drink, ports and logistics, construction, digital and creative industries and tourism and culture.

By agreeing to become a Mayoral Combined Authority, Hull and the East Riding will benefit from a pledged £400 million investment of funding over 30 years.

This includes up to £15 million in 2024/25 to support transport, flood and coastal erosion programmes, and £5 million in 2024/25 to support local economic growth priorities, including any further expansion of Siemens Gamesa at Alexandra Dock in Hull.

Significantly there is also the commitment to rail electrification between Hull and Sheffield, and Hull and Leeds.

“The figures being talked about in terms of investment to drive growth and deliver local projects are attractive,” added Mr Garness.

“We must realise now that Hull and the East Riding is already under serious threat of being left behind as other areas with Mayoral Combined Authorities are being prioritised for devolution and funding allocations.

“We are the only area in Yorkshire, and one a few in the north of England, without such status. If we don’t go down this route we, in my opinion, will become invisible to those controlling the purse strings in Government, and to those in the boardrooms of big businesses looking where next to invest.

“I’ve seen it begin to happen all ready, and that’s a worrying situation. By establishing a Hull and East Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, we will make sure we cannot be ignored.

“As a combined region we’ll be able to open discussions over funding and investment which without a deal would not pass the first ‘tick box’ stage. We will give our region the best possible chance of progressing and prospering – as we all want, and need it to do.

“If we in Hull and the East Riding want to benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment – we simply need to be involved. It might be argued that we hold out for a better deal, but I think we take what is on table and be in the system to seize further and possibly better deals in the future.

“We have so much to offer when we bring together the collective strength of Hull and the East Riding, so for me these are exciting times.

I understand that with any major announcement such as this, it can be hard to capture the imagination of those not involved closely with investment, regeneration and development. People may think this is about politics and business, and of course it is, but it’s also about much more. It’s about raising skills levels and job opportunities, raising living standards, and improving health. They all come together hand in hand.

“The message I am spreading is that this impacts everyone in our region, and so I would encourage all to read up on the details of the deal, how it will work, and to take part and contribute to the consultation period which is about to start.”