Huntingdon is 'prime example' of good infrastructure in region

Recovery Funding to be given to Market Towns

Recovery Funding to be given to Market Towns from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. - Credit: Archant

A regional meeting of the Eastern Powerhouse - held in Huntingdon last week - heard that more investment in transport and connectivity is needed in the East of England – as well as a renewed focus on linking up education and business. 

Chairman James Palmer was speaking at a gathering of regional businesses alongside Huntingdon MP, Jonathan Djanogly.

Mr Palmer told the meeting: "Huntingdon is a prime example of what can be achieved once you get infrastructure right in a region.

"Geographically and economically the area is well-connected to major economic hubs like Cambridge and London, and this connectivity has helped to create a thriving local economy with high levels of employment.

"By pushing for investment in transport, infrastructure, education, and business development, the Eastern Powerhouse is working to replicate the success story of Huntingdonshire across East Anglia”.

According to figures produced by the Eastern Powerhouse, Huntingdonshire has a "relatively strong and stable economy" compared to other areas in the East which is worth roughly £10 Billion per annum.

The area is also said to have  high proportion of local employment, with its working age residents being more likely to be economically active, and more likely to be in employment than the average. 

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A high proportion of local employment is linked to the manufacturing industry (around 15 per cent), compared to a national average of just over eight per cent. The sector is responsible for £2.7 Billion of economic output per year. In addition, Huntingdonshire has a sizable representation in construction, utilities and wholesale sectors, and in higher value industries including world class design and R&D. 

The meeting heard the area is undoubtedly a success story, however some areas for improvement still remain. Huntingdonshire has a relatively lower skilled population – with fewer working age adults with high level qualifications (37.6 per cent) compared with the East (39.5 per cent) and the wider country (43.5 per cent). Low skills are contributing to a relatively low waged economy, with earnings (£589.20) well below the regional (£628.60) and national (£613.10) average. 

The East of England is currently the fourth largest economy in the UK, but productivity lags behind the national average. Poor transport connectivity, a lack of affordable housing and commercial space, difficulties in retaining skilled people and upskilling existing ones, and intra-regional health and educational inequalities, have all bedevilled growth for years, the meeting heard.

Mr Palmer continued: “The East has long been the forgotten corner of the UK. The Powerhouse will speak for the whole of the Eastern region, calling for investment in health, education and infrastructure, and demonstrating to national Government that funding here will produce significant returns not achievable elsewhere. Our businesses are already world leaders, but there is much more potential to be unleashed in the East.”