22 July 2020

Tim Wates reflects on the past six years as Coast to Capital Chair.

"I have been honoured to be the Chair of Coast to Capital over the past nearly six years.  The Coast to Capital Region is incredibly vibrant and varied – from the towns of East Surrey and West Sussex to Britain’s leading coastal city Brighton. The area also includes our beautiful South Downs National Park and Gatwick Airport, our commercial heart and gateway to the world. 


This makes it a great place to live and work and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to Chair the Local Enterprise Partnership here. I am proud of our achievements including the allocation of over £300 million into some fantastic investment projects, which are making a real difference to the region. There is a great opportunity to build on this – the Gatwick 360 Strategic Economic Plan sets out our vision for the region and the Board will be working hard on a recovery strategy for the region.


Whilst it is right that we reflect on our achievements in we cannot ignore the significant event that hit our economy this year.


At the time of writing, the team have been working hard to support businesses in our area through the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Backing Business Grants have supported more than 160 businesses and although the fund is now closed, the team will continue to work on opportunities to support businesses throughout the recovery phase. The Growth Hub evolved its service quickly to respond to the needs of businesses and have answered hundreds of business support enquiries.


Since our creation, we have held ourselves to the highest standards in all that we do. In our government Annual Review this year, we were awarded an ‘Exceptional’ in Governance, which solidifies our position as a trusted and transparent partner. The Board has gone from strength to strength and comprises a very engaged mix of business, local Government and academia. This mix is unique and it has been inspiring to see how the combination of leaders of councils, university Vice Chancellors and high profile business leaders have come together with diverse ideas and passion for our region. Local pride, passionate engagement and real application of skills and experience - all for the public good. And I have been supported by a highly skilled and motivated executive team led by the excellent CEO, Jonathan Sharrock. 


When starting out as Chair, my goal was to set the tone for the LEP to be seen as a leading force for change and a major influence for economic development excellence. Last year, we took a lead role in the formation of the southern group of LEPs - creating a much more powerful regional voice for the South.  Together, we have combined to form a united approach which reflects our region’s priorities for investment, infrastructure and business support. Coast to Capital now stands at the heart of the relationship between government and our local authority partners and extended network.


As I step down as Chair I want to thank the Board, Jonathan and the team, and our partners across the area for their commitment to delivering our ambitious vision and wish Julie Kapsalis the best of luck in her new capacity as Chair."


Tim Wates

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