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Leigh On Sea News. Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Leigh On Sea News. Westminster Report – BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

Westminster Report - BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

BY Southend West MP Anna Firth.

It has been a wonderful two weeks for putting Southend on the map. While our cultural impact always looms the length of the pleasure pier, the past fortnight has been particularly rich for showcasing our outstanding cultural heritage and demonstrating the global resonance that we have.

City Jam, the largest street art festival in Europe, has reached its biggest heights yet. Showcasing 240 artists from all over the globe, including Brazil, Portugal and Spain, the event attracted over 200,000 visitors to the new city of Southend.

It was a privilege to invite Brian Lewis, a participating artist known as JEKS from North Carolina, to Westminster the day I raised City Jam in the Chamber, and I am delighted that Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons, stated that: “it seemed like an absolutely wonderful event.” I look forward to seeing City Jam go from strength to strength and continue to quite literally make a mark on Britain’s cultural status.

The depth and scale of our cultural status came home to me at St Mary’s Church Heritage Open Day, and again while I was watching The City That Walks on Water at our award-winning pleasure pier.

Moving between the scenes, each portraying a different aspect of Southend’s rich history, in the bracing sea air that has infused our city for so long, I was reminded of how much of the world’s past still resides with us, and of the influence that our community has had on the world.

To be reminded of our history the day after being awarded the ‘Pier of the Year 2023’ felt very special indeed, and served as a reminder that Southend’s cultural significance speaks to the past, present and the future.

I am delighted that we are home to such pioneering global vision here in Southend, and this could not be more true when it comes to our entrepreneurship. I have always known this – it is one of the reasons I am so proud to represent Southend West, and I will always continue to support the numerous wonderful local businesses in our community – but it was reinforced to me on an international scale when I welcomed Minster for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston, to ESSLAB in Southend for a trade summit, jointly organised with the Essex Chamber of Commerce.

Southend contributes over 3 billion to the UK economy, and sits in the number one growth area in the country. In 2021, businesses exported two hundred and seventeen million pounds of goods and services, accounting for 1% of the East of England’s exports. We are home to world-leadingly innovative businesses such as Olympus Keymed, the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopic equipment, which holds a 70% share of the global market.

Their work in Southend can be traced back to 1987. We also house companies such as Ipeco, Rega Research Ltd, ESSLAB, Borough Plating and MK Electrics, who are all similarly world-leading.

The summit was attended by sixteen different heavyweights in the international trade industry, and what followed was a particularly productive dialogue regarding what the Department for Trade can do to best support Essex businesses.

Southend’s Rega Research Ltd and Esslab were in attendance, and contributed fulsomely to the discussion. The Minister was keen to emphasise how uniquely poised Southend and Essex are to contribute to the Government’s vision for Britain to become a ‘Nation of Exporters’. As we look to make good on our ambitions for £1 trillion in exports per year by 2030, I wholeheartedly believe that, as Britain’s trade and economic climate begins to change, as we move out of the pandemic and establish a post-Brexit economy, Southend has the answers. The UK is the second largest exporter of services overseas, second only to the USA.

I am highly encouraged by the dialogue begun by the trade summit, and fully encourage all businesses to make use of programmes such as the UK Tradeshow and UK Export Academy, as well as the dedicated Export Finance Managers, in order to maximise their profits in the exciting new financial territory in which we find ourselves.

These are unchartered waters, yes, but if my immersion in our cultural heritage these last two weeks has shown me anything, it is that Southend is used to sailing the unknown. If it pays off now half as well as it has in the past, we have a very bright future ahead.

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