Anglia Ruskin to host Essex Economic Commission

Published: 12 May 2016 at 11:59

Lord Ashcroft Building in Chelmsford

Dr Andrew Sentance will chair group focusing on investment and growth in county

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Anglia Ruskin University will host the Essex Economic Commission, a new group launched today to focus on how the county’s economy can grow over the coming years.

The Essex Economic Commission will be chaired by the leading economist Dr Andrew Sentance CBE, who has worked both as senior economic adviser to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and as a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee.

The new independent commission is made up of economists, business leaders and academics, including Professor Gary Packham of Anglia Ruskin University, and will provide advice to Essex County Council on how and where the local economy can grow and where investment should be focused. 

Dr Sentance said: 

“Essex is an ambitious county and one that has a great deal of economic potential.  I am delighted to have been invited to chair the new commission and we will be looking closely at the barriers to growth and the potential opportunities and reporting back on our findings.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council cabinet member with responsibility for economic growth, added: 

“The Essex economy is already strong, so I am very pleased to support the launch of this new Commission which will provide us and our district colleagues with real tangible and credible evidence to help us target investment and make the economy even stronger.

“Importantly the commission is completely independent, it’s not aligned to any political party or organisation, but the quality and calibre of the membership will give us real insight that will help us meet our ambitions.”

Membership of the commission has been structured to ensure broad expertise across the fields of economics; housing and planning; education and skills; infrastructure development; SME development; technology and innovation; and rural development.  

David Burch, Director of Policy at the Essex Chamber of Commerce, backed the new commission.  He said: 

“This is an innovative approach to looking at the economy and I think will provide useful intelligence, not just for local authorities but also the wider business community.

“The Essex economy is a diverse one and bringing different businesses and sectors together alongside academics and economists will give us a real holistic view of the county’s economic strengths and weaknesses.”

Braintree MP James Cleverly has also backed the new group. He said:

“There is now a great opportunity for Essex to speak with a united voice. The Commission brings together a really strong panel of independent experts who will help boost the economic development of the county.”

Professor Gary Packham, Dean of the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 

“We’re an international business school, but we’re also equally determined to ensure the long-term economic prosperity of our local communities here in Essex. 

“Because of my research background I’ll be focusing on the significant role that SMEs, entrepreneurship and innovation play in our region.”

In addition to Dr Sentance and Professor Packham, the other members of the Essex Economic Commission are: 
Dame Kate Barker CBE Business economist, former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and former Chair of Governors at Anglia Ruskin
Andy Barratt Managing Director of Ford of Britain
Perry Glading Chief Operating Officer, Forth Ports
Guy Smith Vice President, National Farmers Union
Jason Falkingham Head of Business and Corporate Banking, Essex, Barclays
Charles Hindson Group Finance Director, e2v Technologies
Professor Jonathan Haskell Professor of Economics, Imperial College
Professor Eric Smith Professor of Economics, University of Essex

The commission will be hosted by Anglia Ruskin University and will run over the next three years.  Further details on the commission can be found at