Arun agrees to join Greater Brighton Economic Board

Arun Civic Centre
Arun Civic Centre

Plans for Arun District Council to join the Greater Brighton Economic Board have been approved.

The group is made up of six other local authorities, business partnerships, universities, Gatwick Airport and the South Downs National Park Authority.

The overarching aim of the board is to protect and grow the economy, by co-ordinating economic development activities and investment at city region level.

Arun District Council officially agreed to join the board at a meeting on Wednesday July 17.

Membership costs to sit on the board would be around £23,000 a year, according to officers.

James Walsh, Lib Dem leader of the council, said: “It’s very clear, from reading their annual report and talking to people, their ability to lever in substantial sums of money from the private sector in partnership with the private sector to the benefit of their communities is enormous.” Some of the areas where he felt Arun could benefit from membership included upskilling its workforce and improving its broadband speeds.

Arun’s membership is ubject to approval by the councils represented on the board in addition to a formal decision by the board itself.

East Preston councillor Ricky Bower asked for an assurance that the board would not be pushing for a move to unitary authorities.

Dr Walsh replied by pointing out that the board was ‘not a political body at all’.

Meanwhile, Andy Cooper, who represents Angmering and Findon, said he wanted to make sure the rural areas benefitted from Arun being a member of the board.

Dr Walsh replied: “It’s not just about urban centres it’s about benefiting the whole of the Arun district.”

Hotham councillor Steve Goodheart wanted to make sure the board was independent and its agenda was not controlled by Government.

Dr Walsh said the board’s policies were ‘built from the bottom up rather than imposed from the top down’.