Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, invited local key stakeholders to a meeting at the De La Warr Pavilion on Friday 24 November to see how they could work together to promote East Sussex as a great place to visit, work and live.
The meeting was also hosted by Stewart Drew, Chief Executive of the De La Warr Pavilion, Chair of 1066 Country Marketing and business member of Team East Sussex, who is taking a lead role on plans to revitalise the image of the County which will include a major marketing campaign being planned for next year.
Reliable transport links are considered to be a key element in encouraging people to visit a new destination and rail has an important part to play here. Over the past 18 months, rail journeys to many destinations in East Sussex have been disrupted whilst Southern Railway have been working on their plans to make the rail network more resilient and reliable for the future. This has had impact on the perceptions of rail services to East Sussex and along the coast which the marketing campaign also wants to address. Confident that journey times and reliability are already improving and will improve even further in the new year, Southern Railway, who were represented at the meeting, confirmed that they are keen to play an active part in the plans to promote East Sussex.
Other participants in the meeting were Dr Anthony Leonard, Executive Director of Rother District Council, Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council (ESCC), and East Sussex County Council managers responsible for economic development and strategic infrastructure, Graham Peters, Chairman of Team East Sussex, the Federated sub board of South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Philip Johnson, Director of Locate East Sussex, Angie Doll, Passenger Services Director, Southern Rail and Collette Dunkley, Communications and Marketing Director, GTR.
Huw Merriman said “It was great to have so many key local organisations represented at the meeting to share ideas and plans for promoting our beautiful County. East Sussex has so much to offer to visitors, residents and businesses and it is important to the local economy that we deliver this message successfully. I look forward to a further meeting in the new year when the plans will be taking shape.”
Stewart Drew said “There are real opportunities for growth in East Sussex, with recent research showing that increasing awareness of the offer could have a big impact across the visitor economy, inward investment and job creation, as well as supporting public sector recruitment in the health and education sectors.”
Collette Dunkley, Communications and Marketing Director, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We have seen two years of transition as we upgrade the most congested part of the UK rail network. Southern Railway is well on track to deliver major improvements to this network that will benefit passengers and unlock economic growth in the East Sussex region. In May we are introducing a new timetable that ensures train services will be more reliable and frequent and we will offer a greater choice of direct services. We are joining forces with East Sussex stakeholders to launch this campaign to emphasise that the region is very much open for business.”
Councillor Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “We want to work with the train operator and other partners to ensure the image of the East Sussex economy outside our region is known to be open for business. Alongside this, we would want a clear message to be sent within the region that restores confidence to our residents, students, visitors and businesses to promote travel to help our economy to continue to grow. “East Sussex is in the top 10% of economies who have experienced significant growth over the last few years, and we need a strong functioning rail service to support our priority of ‘driving sustainable economic growth’ across the county.”