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New partnership formed to drive forward Stoke-on-Trent’s plans

A new partnership has been forged to drive forward plans for Stoke-on-Trent.

The City Forum, which met last week for the first time, saw nearly 150 representatives come together from over 100 organisations, including government, regional agencies, as well as a number of public and private sector partners from across Stoke-on-Trent.

The partnership aims to deliver the ambitions set out in the Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent Prospectus that was launched earlier this year, which focusses on securing partnership and investment in the city.

It also pledges to create a powerful and influential partnership of private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations working across the city with regional partners, to address and deliver Stoke-on-Trent’s ambitions, outlined in the Prospectus, as one shared plan for the city.

The event, which was held virtually, was opened by the Minister for Business and Industry, and Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi.

Commenting, he said:
“I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that you are doing towards opening up the city.

“I look at a proud city like Stoke-on-Trent and know that it has the potential to be a high-wage, high-productivity hub in the centre of England.

“I’m delighted that we have made the commitment as a government to work with economies that have felt ignored and let down and give them greater investment and greater autonomy to decide how those investments are used.

“I know that there is still plenty of potential to be unleashed in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Councillor Abi Brown chaired the event while there were also a number of keynote speakers.

Discussion focused on four key areas including the City Forum, the economy, creating the Stoke-on-Trent of tomorrow, as well as social recovery.

Attendees had the opportunity to join a themed workshop covering transport, economic development, skills and education, and health and productivity.

Forum facilitators included the city’s three MPs Jack Brereton, Jo Gideon and Jonathan Gullis and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chair Alun Rogers, amongst others.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council led on the introduction of the new forum, but the local authority said that the strength of the partnership lies in the diversity and shared ownership of members.

Commenting, Councillor Brown said: “Stoke-on-Trent is the litmus test for the government’s levelling up agenda. Earlier this year we launched our Powering up Stoke-on-Trent Prospectus, but we know there is so much more we can do together.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in additional challenges to those already facing our city and our focus needs to be on what we as partners need to do collectively to help us to recover and thrive.

“That’s why we’ve introduced the City Forum. It brings together communities, businesses, the public sector, the private sector and anyone with an interest, a passion and a love for our fantastic city.

“We’re going to do great things, we’ve only just started to Power up Stoke-on-Trent and by harnessing the expertise, influence, skills and experiences of key partners and stakeholders through the City Forum, we can make this city
even more effective, efficient, resilient and sustainable.

“There are so many brilliant, kind and dedicated people here. I strongly believe this rich collaboration between sectors and partners will facilitate and drive the development of an attractive, growing, inclusive and vibrant city which we can all be proud of.”

In a letter about the forum, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “I welcome this initiative.

“The Stoke-on-Trent City Partnership Forum is an excellent example of local collaboration to drive positive change in places.

"Strong local partnerships being local authorities, businesses and other local stakeholders are crucial to delivering the government’s plans to spread opportunity and level up the United Kingdom.”

Following the inaugural meeting, a report is to be produced and shared from the forum which will set out key actions which will be shared with key partnership boards that are already established in the city.

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