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Task force 'is key to Chester's future prosperity'

A TASK force is being set up to ensure Chester retains its economic competitiveness as one of the leading cities in the North West.

A TASK force is being set up to ensure Chester retains its economic competitiveness as one of the leading cities in the North West.

The Chester Economic Symposium will include representatives from the public, private and voluntary sector, who will work together to drive the city's economic development.

Chester City Council's leadership board will meet today to discuss the formation of the partnership and set out its role in more detail. But a draft document to be considered by the board outlines its broad aims.

The partnership will oversee the development and implementation of Chester's economic development strategies and will produce annual action plans and key performance indicators.

It will be given a brief to raise Chester's profile regionally, nationally and internationally, and will bring in advisors with particular expertise when required.

It will consult with networks and partnerships in the wider area, for example the Mersey Dee Alliance and the Cheshire and Warrington Economic Alliance, on all issues affecting Chester's economy.

The partnership will replace the existing Economic Development Forum. Barbara Mothershaw, head of the council's economic and tourism development unit, said: "We have operated the forum since 1990 and it has got its teeth into many key issues over the years.

"But now we need to invigorate the forum by blending it into the new partnership, because, as it stands, it may not necessarily be suitable for future challenges.

"To ensure Chester's economic competitiveness, it is essential we constantly review and reinvigorate our approach.

"Not one organisation, whether it is of the public or private sector, can make Chester vibrant short and long term.

"That can only be done by coordinated and focused working together which is what the partnership is all about." She added: "We are yet to draw up detailed aims of the partnership but we expect to it to tackle three key actions each year."

The council has already met with potential member organisations and says the feedback has been overwhelmingly in favour.

A consultation document has been widely circulated to businesses and other representational organisations, including the Chester, Ellesmere Port and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, Chester College and the Small Business Service.

The council is now requesting applications to be lodged before August 17 for membership of a focus group to develop the role of the partnership. It is anticipated it will have no more than 20 members representing the public, private and voluntary sectors.

In the draft document, the council has noted the sectors critically important to Chester's economy are tourism, retailing, financial services, health and the public sector.

It also says manufacturing and the rural area in the Chester city region is vitally important, together with transport.

And it is envisaged members will hold between four and six meetings per year, beginning September this year, although it is yet to be decided whether these will be open to the public.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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