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MP George Freeman claims 'no one in London cares about Norfolk'

PUBLISHED: 12:01 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 15 July 2019

Emily Groves discusses the Norfolk Charter at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival. Picture: New Anglia LEP

Emily Groves discusses the Norfolk Charter at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival. Picture: New Anglia LEP

New Anglia LEP

MP George Freeman has delivered a rallying cry to the region to carve out a bright future for itself by claiming "no one in London cares about Norfolk".

Matthew Harrowven talks sustainability at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival. Picture: ArchantMatthew Harrowven talks sustainability at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival. Picture: Archant

Speaking at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival Mr Freeman delivered the harsh reality and said the county must now stop relying on "hand outs".

The mid-Norfolk MP was addressing some of the brightest of the county's business minds at a panel discussion on a proposed new charter which will be taken to policymakers and industry leaders to help direct the local economy.

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He said: "Norfolk needs a clear vision for its long-term social and economic development. For too long we have been passive recipients of whatever ministers and civil servants in Whitehall might or might not decide to hand out.

"That's why I set up the Norfolk Enterprise Festival with local entrepreneurs - to help develop our own vision and plan for Norfolk. No-one in London will do this for us. It is up to us. All of us."

The basis of the charter was established at the launch event of the festival last year and since then Mr Freeman and a team of industry leaders have been working to bring the plans to fruition.

A key aspect of the plan is a 'happiness-first' economy.

Emily Groves, founder of Norwich-based energy consultant Indigo Swan, added: "When we sat down to establish the charter we realised the thing that makes Norfolk different is the fact we have this beautiful natural space, which provides us with unique work and life choices. We are admired nationally as a county of fulfilment and happiness."

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Over the coming months business will be asked to join the charter and promote a 'happiness-first' approach to operations.

As well as promoting the region as having this philosophy, the charter committee will also be lobbying for practical changes such as greater broadband connectivity and better road links.

"The great thing about the fact that no one in London is focussing on Norfolk is that we get to shape our own destiny," Mr Freeman added.

"Previously we've had the entrepreneurs in Norfolk saying they want one thing, and ministers in Westminster saying they want another. This gives us the opportunity to take our vision to them and do something different."

Talking sustainability at the Norfolk Enterprise Festival

The theme of this year's festival held at Hoveton Hall was sustainable growth and the green economy.

And while talks were held on topics from the SMEs tackling climate change to how to tackle stress in the workplace, green-minded businesses were also operating in the marketplace of the festival.

One such business is Tap and Tipple, which is a mobile bar and also operates a wine delivery service.

Founder Matthew Harrowven said: "I would say we're about 98% sustainable. Obviously we're a lot more eco-friendly than most because our wine delivery service means we give people glass bottles which we then pick up and refill - there's no single use plastics.

"For events like this we have plastic cups but I work specifically with a Californian company which means the items are recyclable. On top of that we put a 50p off offer on drinks when customers return with their cups. All of our electricity is about 100w, and our seating is all recycled materials."

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