by Simon Cook, leader of Canterbury City Council
A huge vote of confidence in Canterbury – that’s the message I take from the report of the Thames Estuary Growth Commission yesterday.
They call for Canterbury to be the lynchpin of a health supercentre along the Kent side of the estuary and this is an ambition we can really get behind.
We already have the bones to build on, with the new medical school and the academic research of our universities. The next step is for this to support a growing halo of life sciences businesses around the city which will bring valuable jobs to east Kent.
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This is something the city council has been working on for the past couple of years. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes with the commission. This included arranging visits so they could see what Canterbury had to offer – and the challenges that our ambition would need to overcome.
The city council hasn’t just done this by itself, but we’ve pulled together key players in Canterbury including the universities to set out our stall.
It’s been a lot of hard work but there’s always been a consistent vision that Canterbury has the potential for a dazzling future.
That’s why it’s such great news that this really high powered commission have supported us in this.
It is chaired by Sir John Armitt who ran the infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympics, and including the architect Lord Foster and Alice Gast, the President of Imperial College – these are very serious people.
Their recommendations will carry enormous weight in Whitehall.
They’ll be a powerful lever in our discussions with government as well lobby for it to invest in our district.
They also back us in calling for better railway connections for the city and identify the need to increase road and rail capacity along the estuary.
One of our district’s key strengths is our proximity both to London and the continent and better communication links will only enhance this.
A final driver for economic growth is bringing forward more places for people to work. Again their vision strongly supports the work that we’re already doing.
There’s a massive shortage of employment space in Kent and this will continue to be a real priority for the city council.
We’ve always known the vast potential that Canterbury has to be a powerhouse for the region – it’s fantastic that others have now recognised this. This report gives a blueprint for overcoming the challenges and unlocking Canterbury’s potential.
Cllr Simon Cook has been leader of Canterbury City Council since 2015. He represents the Nailbourne ward and lives in Bridge