Thank you once again to all those who contributed to the discussions that took place last week.
120 people helped shape this phase of the Our Heritage project. We welcomed over 50 contributors across the five virtual roundtables, which covered a number of over-arching themes and dived deeper on specific issues relating to Heritage, Economy, Energy and Climate. A number participated in more than one session.
You can review all the conversations by clicking on the links below:
- Our Heritage 2040: Global Needs & Local Responsibilities
- Heritage: 21st century ambition for Britain’s quietest county
- Energy: Suffolk, the East Coast and the Power to Innovate
- Economy: A new energy for investment at scale
- Climate: Net Zero Carbon Together – but how and when?
What We Heard
We are currently reviewing notes and synthesising a huge array of insights and ideas. Policy recommendations and an editorial Think Piece, authored by Jericho’s Matthew Gwyther, will follow.
Meanwhile, we wanted to share the big themes emerging from the discussions:
1. Localism & Devolution of Power
“Irrespective of political hue, devolved economies seem to be doing better. How can we start valuing things in a different way?”
Andy Wood, CEO, Adnams PLC
A “loud & clear” message from everyone involved in the project so far. Better decision-making takes place at a local level. A strong sense that centralised national (and even regional) politics have failed us. The equivalent of a Metro (or Unitary Authority) Mayor could be a great help to the region. Could the new Mayor be a virtual one? New tax frameworks to support regional development are also an option.
2. Stewardship & Social Impact
“If the vision is strong enough, we can enforce a kind of devolution where we can insist upon certain outcomes. We should (also) bring localism to the financial aspect of stewardship; to make these large-scale investors aware of their impact”
Mark Goyder, Author & Founder, Tomorrow’s Company
Building on the localism point…. what might Community Investment and Social Impact funds look like for the region – and how can they support greater wellbeing and prosperity? Could these approaches, for example, help improve digital connectivity and improve social resilience?
How can “power” and governance be placed in the hands of those who live in the region – on projects both big and small: from energy to heritage? Major infrastructure projects will benefit from local community representation.
3. Huge Opportunities for Innovation – but more Ambition Needed
“Suffolk isn’t getting its fair share, both nationally and internationally”
Sally Balcombe, CEO, Visit England
There was a rich discussion at the Economy roundtable, prompted by George Freeman MP, around what an integrated “Energy Innovation Economy” might look like? Alongside this: Suffolk – and maybe Norfolk, too – as a “crucible of economic disruption” … combining, for example, hydrogen capture, intensification of agriculture and advanced robotics.
In the Heritage session, the idea emerged of Suffolk as Britain’s first National Park county, championing re-wilding and biodiversity, together with new protocols for the built environment and deep electrification. Food and fisheries are every bit as central to a flourishing regional economy as energy innovation and digital/ data connectivity. It’s one eco-system… and needs to be addressed as such. Maybe start with a cluster of new institutions – ecology and technology together?
Innovation needs to be matched with ambition. Suffolk should no longer remain “Britain’s quietest county”, especially if it is becoming the future energy source for both the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands machine. Sally Balcombe, CEO of Visit Britain and Visit England noted “you’re not getting your fair share”. Too true.
Major construction and infrastructure projects can be both catalysts, convening points and crucibles for change.
New metrics may be required, rooted in best-in-class environmental standards and wellbeing, rather than “old measures” of GDP-related growth.
Download the Our Heritage 2040 Publication here.
4. “Mono-Culturalism” and Fragmentation are very real and urgent problems
“We have a huge opportunity for cultural conversations around diversity and those who have been left behind. We need a nuanced, egalitarian approach to inclusion in the East of England”
Suba Das, Artistic Director, High Tide
Across all sessions, it was felt that politicians and policy-makers are not always listening to the “right” people (real workers, with real jobs) and that too many voices are currently suppressed/ go unheard. This led to good conversations on diversity and inclusion. The diversity issue was a central challenge raised by High Tide Artistic Director, Suba Das, who warned of the social and economic dangers of mono-culturalism.
Fragmentation came up time and again: too many political institutions; too many government agencies; too many scattergun approaches across both public and private sectors. Not enough joined-up thinking within a coherent framework of what we can – and should – be able to achieve together. A systems architect would be very welcome.
5. There is no silver bullet but a very complicated jigsaw
“I don’t think there is any ‘one’ solution, there is no silver bullet and there is no centralised system design that works… systems complexity is what we will have to deal with”
Laura Sandys, Recent chair of Energy Systems Data Taskforce;
NED at SGN & Energy Systems Catapult
Education and skills (developing and retaining them in the region) are fundamental to the “wellbeing jigsaw” and flourishing economy of the future. New clusters (with Cambridge as the mothership?) and Centres of Excellence should be actively encouraged. Likewise, transport in the region needs a wholesale re-think (starting with rail). And the housing crisis (and an exodus of youth) is just as critical an issue in Norfolk/ Suffolk as it is in some of the great cities of the UK.
Is there an imbalance between technical expertise and political will? Are our representatives sufficiently qualified to deal with the complexities of the challenges ahead? A real danger that knowledge gaps will lead to poorer policy-making (and are doing so already).
Unpicking and re-configuring the current muddle – see fragmentation point above – is essential but will take application and time. Regional and national champions need to be convened. But it won’t be easy – across the energy sector, politics, tourism, heritage – there are just too many “representative” groups… providing a recipe for either chaos or stasis but most likely (and sadly) not meaningful change.
“We need to make the most of what we have and there is an opportunity for the East to create an energy innovation economy”
George Freeman, MP
There is significant appetite to build on the conversations and move into action/ delivery. A significant proportion of participants have already suggested ways in which they can help and move everything forwards.
Consensus was clear: words are not enough. We should all continue to Think Big and how best to deliver transformative ideas at scale.
Joined-up, nuanced thinking is key to this. The Our Heritage 2040 project has done well thus far to avoid binary or tit-for-tat arguments. The power of the collective imagination is also evident. We must not get trapped in some of the obvious rabbit holes. No one actor/ business/ sector should take responsibility for the journey ahead:” a coalition of the willing is needed. There is widespread support for on-going collaboration and practical solutions.
Building on this, ideas rooted in communities (geographical & socio-economic) – and led by them – are especially resonant. But we need to bring more diversity, including people aged under 30, into the conversation.
And finally, the Heritage Coast cannot only be about the romantic idyll. Suffolk has an economic underbelly that must not be ignored. Dr Andy Wood and Peter Aldous MP both stressed this in the opening session. So… after we have all had a lovely wander, real or metaphorical, around Aldeburgh, Southwold and Walberswick, let’s take a walk-through Lowestoft and then ask ourselves “is this the future we want for our region?”.
Please keep an eye out for the editorial Think Piece which will follow in a couple of weeks and do continue to share any further reading with us which we will include on the Our Heritage 2040 webpage; the latest of which includes the Atkins ‘Engineering Net Zero’ Technical Report.
A huge thank you once again to all of those who contributed to the roundtable discussions (list included below). Thanks also to Julia Pyke and the Sizewell C team for supporting this project and allowing Jericho complete editorial independence throughout – a brave and trusting move.
Please get in touch with our Programme Director email@example.com if you would like to be involved in the Our Heritage 2040 project moving forwards. We very much hope you will.
Keep well. Stay safe.
Content Manager, Jericho Chambers
- Peter Abson, Public Affairs and Policy Senior Manager, National Grid
- Peter Aldous MP
- James Alexander, Director, Future Agenda
- Jayne Austin, Development and Partnership Manager, Association of Suffolk Museums
- Sally Balcombe, CEO, Visit England
- Chris Ball, Managing Director, Atkins Energy UK & Europe
- Rebecca Barnett, Deputy Director, Ofgem
- Simon Barrow, Trustee, Alde & Ore Association
- Paul Bongers de Rath, Secretary, Aldeburgh Society
- Rodney Brook, Business Development Director, Clean Power Hydrogen Group
- Graeme Cooper, Project Director, National Grid
- Nigel Cornwall, Founding Member, Hydrogen East
- Patrick Craven, Director of Strategic Partnerships, City and Guilds
- Suba Das, Artistic Director, High Tide
- Joanna Deakin, Journalist, Film Maker, Stop Sizewell C Campaigner
- Beth Derks, Future Leaders Programme Lead and Tutor, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, UEA
- David Ellis, Vice President of Sales and Strategy, Jacobs
- George Freeman MP
- Liz Fuller, Save Britain’s Heritage
- Michael Gidney, Chief Executive, The Fairtrade Foundation
- Cameron Gilmour, Vice President, Doosan Babcock
- Nick Gold, Owner, Orfordness
- Mark Goyder, Founder, Tomorrow’s Company
- Matthew Gwyther, Partner, Jericho Chambers
- Argus Hardy, WildEast
- Becky Holloway, Programme Director, Jericho Chambers
- Lord Chris Holmes
- Saul Humphrey, Chair, New Anglia LEP: Building Growth
- Robert Jones, Assistant Chief Constable, Suffolk Police
- Dominic Keen, Founder, Britbots and New Anglia LEP
- Jayne Knight, Arts Development Manager, Suffolk County Council
- Tony Langham, Chief Executive and Co-founder, Lansons
- Rosanna Lawn, Global Brand Director, Project Etopia
- Zion Lights, Director, Environmental Progress
- Paul Mackie, Coastal Strategic Funding Manager, Coastal Partnership East
- Michael Mahony
- Nick Mayo, Leiston District Citizens’ Advice Bureau
- Tom McGarry, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Sizewell C
- Clare Parsons, Chair and Co-founder, Lansons; Trustee, High Tide Festival
- Ian Pease, Business Development Manager – All Energy, Suffolk County Council
- Robert Phillips, Founder, Jericho Chambers
- Julia Pyke, Director, Sizewell C
- Johnathan, Reynolds, Managing Director, Opergy Ltd
- Nigel, Salter, Director, Brodie
- Laura Sandys
- Hugh Somerleyton, Restauranteur and Landowner
- Callum Thomas, Founder and CEO, Thomas Thor Associates
- Sarah Williamson, Technical Director, Laing O’Rourke
- Andy Wood, CEO, Adnams PLC
- Ian Wright, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation
- Derek Wyatt, former MP and Digital Guru
- Chrysoula Zervoudakis, Governance & Sustainability Consultant