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Jaywick Sands' Sunspot Business Centre: A Beacon of Revival and Devolution in Essex

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader | Essex County Council

4 min read Partner content

The brand-new Sunspot Business Centre in Jaywick Sands heralds a new beginning for one of our Country’s most deprived wards.

Facing out toward a North Sea dotted with wind turbines, with its vaulted roofline shimmering in the late-summer sunshine as one might expect from its situation on the southern edge of the seaside town of Clacton, Sunspot offers 24 new business units suitable for retail, office, studio or workshop accommodation.

Not a development which would necessarily raise eyebrows elsewhere in Britain, but in Jaywick Sands, it signals a further step in what we hope will be a remarkable renaissance.

The location has been a focus for our Levelling Up activity in Essex, so it was apt that Dehenna Davison MP, the Levelling Up minister, was on hand last week to officially cut the ribbon at the centre, funded through over £2 million each from Essex County and from the Government’s Getting Building fund, alongside over £800,000 from Tendring District Council, who are also supporting its operating costs through its £1.18 million allocation from the UK shared prosperity fund.

Levelling Up in Essex is delivering targeted, long-term support for communities – from community supermarkets through to improvements in transport and communications connectivity in isolated rural areas of the county.

It is the agenda at the heart of Everyone’s Essex, the County Council’s corporate plan, for which will run for a further two years before the next county elections.

Our ambition for tackling the inequalities in opportunity which exist in Essex is strong. And so is our belief that devolution holds the real key to unlocking the true potential of our great county.

In Suffolk, not too far north along coast from Sunspot, the scope of a proposed devolution deal has already been announced. In England, this Autumn, 50% of the country will be covered by devolution deals either already up and running or on their way to being so.

Our ambition for tackling the inequalities in opportunity which exist in Essex is strong.

Why does devolution matter in a place like Jaywick Sands? The answer is pretty is pretty simple – it is the ability target investment and activity which will help the local economy grow. Investment in transport, infrastructure, housing, skills and job opportunities.

The – literally – bigger prize is to achieve this across Greater Essex (covering the County Council, Southend-in-Sea and Thurrock Council areas). Devolution across our geography, providing more de-centralised, local decision-making and funding, would act as a key enabler for this investment.

It is a quest we have embarked on with our City, Borough and District Councils, along with our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner over the past year, through an expression of interest and now, discussions with Government on which sort of devolution deal would offer the best fit. We have also engaged with and enlisted the support of Essex-based industries, businesses and Universities.

Here, a devolution deal could help ensure just the kind of local partnerships we are seeing at work in Jaywick Sands, addressing local challenges with a similar model of engagement across our geography.

We know that, from a business perspective in particular, any future arrangement that strengthens the model for collaboration and coordination across local authorities and businesses giving us ever greater reason to deliver ambitious, coordinated and deliverable plans for local economic growth, will help support our Levelling Up vision of enabling communities to thrive.

Devolving the powers and funding on these issues to a local accountable body could enable businesses of all sizes to have a greater voice ensuring that decisions of strategic significance reflect the needs of local businesses now and for the future.

The opportunity to shape, develop and grow better opportunities for people of all ages in all of our Greater Essex Communities through devolution is clear. For Jaywick Sands, Sunspot and beyond, we hope this is the dawning of a bright new era.  

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