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Future of Norfolk growth tops agenda at MP’s meeting

PUBLISHED: 08:12 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:12 27 January 2018

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon Picture: Sonya Duncan

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon Picture: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC vÉÄövǬ© 2010

Growing Norfolk – while retaining what keeps it so special – was top of the agenda at a business breakfast hosted by an MP.

Easton and Otley College. Photo : Steve AdamsEaston and Otley College. Photo : Steve Adams

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, led the event at Easton and Otley College yesterday morning, as part of his How Should Norfolk Grow initiative.

It saw leaders from various sectors and industries attend, all asked to bring along someone they consider to be a Norfolk leader of the future.

The meeting heard from Mark Pendlington, the college’s chair of governors, and Ann Leitch, who has been heading up part of Mr Bacon’s scheme.

How Should Norfolk Grow was launched three years ago, and focuses on developing the county’s future in areas including skills, housing, design and digital.

Mark Pendlington.  Picture: Nick ButcherMark Pendlington. Picture: Nick Butcher

During the meeting, Mr Bacon said it had been an “exciting” initiative to lead, and that it had become clear through the process that a focus on “vital” skills was needed.

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But he said Norfolk could sometimes be overlooked - and that it was up to the county to fight its corner. Referring to why he got into politics, he said: “I was very much of the mind-set, ‘if not us, then who?”

Before introducing the speakers, he praised the land-based college and its students.

Mr Pendlington, former chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “One thing that strikes me about this great county is the potential it has and the role it has to play not just in the UK economy, but in the global one.

“I know that Norfolk is an extremely special place, packed full of entrepreneurship. I want to debunk the idea that there is a cul-de-sac economy here.”

He cited the new aviation academy in Norwich, Norwich University of the Art’s Ideas Factory and Hethel engineering as examples of Norfolk’s forward-thinking initiatives.

And the message from all speakers – which included acting principal of the college Jane Townsend – was collaboration.

They said people should not “work in their separate silos”, and, instead, should join forces and work with a “common purpose”.

Do you have a story we should be writing about? Let us know by emailing Lauren Cope on lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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