A Commission has been set up to ensure residents in Luton benefit from the town’s growing economy.
The Commision is made up of nine experts from the business, education, housing, infrastructure, health, community and welfare sectors, who are all passionate about improving the lives of everyone in the town.
The independent group was set up to ensure all the town’s communities benefit from the new jobs that will be created as the town transforms under the £1.5 billion Luton Investment Framework.
The key aims of the Commission, which will come under the banner of ‘Growing Luton Together’, will be on improving skills and productivity, raising aspirations, attracting more quality jobs, supporting communities to remain healthy, ensuring equality as well as encouraging people to remain and spend their money in the town.
The Commission is being chaired by former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire Professor, Sir Leslie Ebdon CBE DL. Speaking at their first meeting of the Commission last week, Professor Ebdon said: “The £1.5 billion of inward investment into Luton is a genuine opportunity to transform our town but it is vital that everybody and all our many communities feel the benefit of what is happening.
“We have already identified skills as a really important aspect of our work. Unless people in Luton can acquire the skills that new businesses need, companies will not choose to come to Luton or if they do they will be forced to recruit from outside the town. I am pleased that we have all parts of our education system represented on the Commission.
“But of course it is not just about skills, there are issues about making Luton a more attractive place to live and work, having a healthier population and one where everybody has the opportunity to fulfil their full potential regardless of ethnicity, gender or social class.
“Through the call for evidence the aim is to be able to identify these issues and we are keen to read suggestions from the professionals involved in these areas.
“We have a great team who are all good listeners and passionate about Luton, inclusivity and seeing that the benefits of growth are spread equitably.”
The other commissioners are Chris Curtis (Youthscape), Mick Dillon (Citizens Advice Bureau), Gwyneth Gibson (Lea Manor High School Head), Ali Hadawi CBE (Central Beds College), Fozia Irfan (Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation), Nicholas Lancaster (University of Bedfordshire), Justin Richardson (Chamber Business) and Jennie Russell (Luton Clinical Commissioning Group).
The group wants to hear from the many communities in Luton to understand what is needed to ensure everybody feels part of Luton’s transformation.
An extensive engagement and consultation programme across the borough will be launched in the New Year and will include events, public meetings, a schools competition and stakeholder discussions to get the evidence base to help shape the key recommendations and proposals for inclusive growth in Luton.
Cllr Sian Timoney, portfolio holder for Transformation said: “Luton has a super-diverse and young population, but it is growing faster than the national average and as it continues we need to makes sure everyone in the town benefits - we need to make sure no one gets left behind.
“The Commission, an independent body made up of experts from a range of relevant sectors, will look at tackling areas where we need to improve – to look at the barriers and how we can remove them. The engagement plan will be an important part of the whole process”.
For more information about the commissioners, how to submit evidence and the engagement programme and how you can get involved visit www.growinglutontogether.com.