To businesses in Norfolk, the message is clear: Norfolk Conservatives don't want to talk about economic strategy.
Today the Liberal Democrats called on the County Council to take the lead in setting the strategy for economic recovery in Norfolk but were roundly voted down.
Proposing the motion to create clearer leadership of Norfolk's economic strategy, group leader Steffan Aquarone said, "We believe Norfolk is full of untapped potential. But to harness this, the County Council needs to see itself as the natural unit of leadership in our county – fighting for the interests of Norfolk, but also working to improve how Norfolk sees itself, and the degree to which its citizens are equipped and enabled to lead independent, fulfilled lives."
Overall, Norfolk’s core industries face significant change in the coming years, with Brexit and the Climate Emergency two of the main drivers that could cause Norfolk to sink or swim.
"Norfolk needs vision, ambition and leadership," continued Aquarone. "Our overall economy was already falling well behind before coronavirus. In rural areas in particular, we face acute challenges caused by a rapidly aging population, lack of connectivity, rural poverty, and an exodus of young people."
"It is clear from those areas in the UK and internationally that are delivering real economic growth that the lead local authority needs to show leadership through a compelling overarching vision, ambitious growth plans along with active, hands-on engagement and partnership with local businesses – not just signposting to services or facilitating Government programmes.
"Norfolk’s model of a handful of politicians working with the Local Enterprise Partnership is insular and uninspiring. Norfolk County Council needs to provide real direction, engagement and leadership to deliver the growth Norfolk needs."
The Liberal Democrats' economic policy will be released later this year, when the business community will be asked for their views. Businesses interested in shaping the policy are invited to contact Cllr Steffan Aquarone on [email protected]