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New We Are Colchester board aims to unlock Colchester’s economic potential

Will develop an investment plan for up to £25 million from the Government’s Town Deal

Date issued: 30 January 2020

The ‘We Are Colchester’ partnership launched yesterday (29 January), when its new board met for the first time.

Simon Blaxill, Chair of the “Our Colchester” Business Improvement District (BID) and managing director of local company Kent Blaxill, has been appointed as the board’s chair.

We Are Colchester, a dynamic partnership comprising Colchester Borough Council, Essex County Council, local businesses and voluntary organisations, has been established to develop a long-term vision for unlocking more jobs and prosperity for Colchester.

The board will be supported by a new advisory group and enlist a range of stakeholders who will be directly engaged in the programme. Over the next few months, the partnership will develop an investment plan for up to £25 million from the Government’s Town Deal – following last year’s announcement that Colchester was one of 100 places able to bid for the money.

One of the board’s first priorities will be to develop a long-term strategic vision for the town and then look at investment strategies to turn that agreed vision into reality to support future economic growth and help overcome some of the social and economic challenges Colchester currently faces. Stakeholders and residents will have the opportunity to shape not only the vision but the investment concepts, as well.

Included among the key areas the partnership will look is how to better connect Colchester’s digital and transport infrastructure, how to grow the borough’s economy in an inclusive way and how to make Colchester an even better place to live.

To ensure the plan is as robust, sustainable and innovative as possible experts will be called in to advise the board.

Communities will also have a chance to help shape the vision at a wide range of events being planned for the spring, ahead of an investment plan and funding bid being submitted to the Government in the summer. This bid will be for the £25m Towns Fund, but further work will be required to attract additional funding to deliver the whole of the long-term strategic vision and a lasting-legacy for the town. 

Simon Blaxill, the Chair of We Are Colchester, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Colchester to strengthen its relationship with government and a range of public and private investors by developing a coherent long-term vision for the town that will see it adapt and evolve as the region’s economic centre.

We will work in an inclusive way with communities, who we want to help shape the vision at a wide range of events being held in the coming months. We look forward to working with you to help us shape this ambitious plan for the future.”

Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Council and board Vice-Chair, added: “This is an exciting time and the beginning of a process to deliver a longer-term vision for Colchester.

“We are a borough that has secured significant inward investment. This is another example where we have a chance to bid for more money for our town.

“The Towns Fund money could help ignite a number of projects around the town that fit with the vision that our council, our businesses and our residents want to see for a Better Colchester.”

More information about We Are Colchester can be at: www.colchester.gov.uk/wearecolchester  

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