A refreshed Economic Development Strategy was presented at a recent meeting of East Lothian Council’s Cabinet.
The strategy, which covers the period 2012-22, highlights a number of areas where targets have been achieved or progress is being made at the mid-point, including:
- The number of businesses in East Lothian increased by 620 between 2010 and 2017, above target
- The number of jobs increased by 2,000 between 2010 and 2015, showing good progress albeit slightly behind target
- East Lothian’s tourism sector has developed through an increasingly joined up approach and attracting more high profile events to the county.
- Employability services have been improved with the launch of East Lothian Works. Youth unemployment fell from 42.8% in 2010/11 to 10.8% in 2016/17.
- Progress has been made in improving public transport and broadband connectivity
- Progress has been made in developing distinctive branding of town centres and supporting town centre improvements to increase resident spend.
Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and the publication of key documents such as the East Lothian Local Development Plan 2018, the strategy has been refreshed to ensure it further contributes to growing a thriving and dynamic local economy and is fit-for-purpose by acknowledging the economic landscape.
Other significant developments include the council’s purchase of the former Cockenzie Power Station site and the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which present major opportunities for jobs and economic growth. There are also ambitions for a vibrant new East Lothian community for the 21st century and beyond at the former Blindwells site, with affordable homes for the future, sustainability and economic development at its heart.
The refreshed Economic Development Strategy for East Lothian sets out two major strategic goals: businesses - to increase the number of businesses in East Lothian with growth potential; jobs - increase the proportion of East Lothian residents working in and contributing to East Lothian’s economy.
It has five strategic objectives:
- To be the best connected place in Scotland to set up and grow an innovative business
- To be Scotland’s leading coastal, leisure and food & drink destination
- To explore and develop regional opportunities to support economic development and to encourage study, work, investment and spend in East Lothian
- To provide high quality employment pathways for East Lothian’s workforce
- To become Scotland's most sustainable and digitally-connected local economy
Councillor John McMillan, Cabinet Spokesperson for Economic Development, said:
“Growing East Lothian’s economy is one of the main objectives of our Council Plan, as it contributes to reducing inequalities and building the even more prosperous and safe East Lothian we all want to see.
“There has been a huge amount of progress since launch of the strategy in 2012 with, for example, a rise in the number of local jobs and businesses. We need to build on the excellent progress being made by ensuring we have a flexible and updated economic development strategy which reflects some of the significant developments which have taken place at local and national level.
“There are huge opportunities for us to address the challenges of inequality, while building sustainable economic growth, providing increased employment opportunities for local people. To do this we must focus on sustainability and embrace new, innovative approaches.
“It is an ambitious and inclusive strategy and one we are determined to fulfil for the benefit of everyone who lives and works in our local communities.”
An action plan has been drawn up with actions assigned to council services and partners for delivery.
Actions include preparing strategic sites such as the former Cockenzie Power Station site for marketing and development, improving the performance of key sectors, enhancing connectivity and business support services, and developing more sustainable employment and training pathways.