The east of England has the potential to be the UK's most successful economy outside London, if only the government would recognise it.

That's the belief of the former elected mayor at the helm of the Eastern Powerhouse - an organisation trying to drive investment into counties including Norfolk and Suffolk.

James Palmer, a former mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, is chairman of the business-led organisation, which has members such as Lotus, Adnams and Norwich Research Park and the backing of a number of MPs.

Launched a year ago, Mr Palmer said its objective was to make the case for the government to invest in the region and develop policies which can help it thrive.

He said: "It's fundamentally true that the east does miss out in comparison to other parts of the county. That's been the case for all of my life and the lives of people older than I am.

"That's an issue with the way the UK is run, because the east of England is one of the most exciting, forward-thinking economies in the world.

"We have the potential to become the most successful economy in the country outside of London, yet there are no policies in place for the east of England.

"In the budget, the east was mentioned twice, while the north was mentioned 19 times."

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Mr Palmer said the government needed to forge fresh policies and invest more in technology, infrastructure, energy and research, along with roads and rail infrastructure.

Eastern Daily Press: James Palmer says investment in rail is crucial to help the East reach its potentialJames Palmer says investment in rail is crucial to help the East reach its potential (Image: Chris Bishop)

He said: "People in the east deserve the opportunities everyone else gets and not to miss out just because of where they live."

Mr Palmer said the Eastern Powerhouse had secured a meeting with Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities.

He said he will press for the Eastern Powerhouse to get official government recognition and funding.