52This morning was a very important day for North Kent. Because today heralded a visit from John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to sign the long-awaited North Kent MAA. Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council; Mike Snelling, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council and myself were joined by around fifty colleagues from Medway and Swale Councils, together with representatives from the Government Office of the South East, SEEDA, JobCentre Plus, the Learning and Skills Council and the Homes and Communities Agency to celebrate the culmination of a negotiation stretching back over years.
The Multi Area Agreement is an agreement for collaborative working across local council boundaries, and usually involves a number of public sector organisations. Although they don’t involve central Government putting in cash, they will involve Government providing freedoms and flexibilities to local councils which can often be more valuable than cash.
But today was just a signing ceremony – the really hard work starts now. The North Kent MAA features three workstreams – skills and training, highways and transport, and housing. Practically, it will deliver:
- by the year 2026, fifty eight thousand jobs and fifty two thousand new homes
- by the year 2014, forty four thousand more students with five or more A* – C GCSE passes
- a reduction in carbon emissions of nearly seventeen percent by retrofitting energy saving measures
- improvements in road and transport infrastructure including a wider rollout of the award-winning Fastrack bus service and junction improvements at the Bean Interchange on the A2
The North Kent MAA will create enhanced opportunities and a better quality of life for tens of thousands of residents in North Kent, but only if we all continue to work together for a shared vision.
Because, as I said this morning in my speech to the Secretary of State, the people of North Kent deserve nothing less.