Hertfordshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner told business leaders in the county he wants more done to encourage economic growth – including housebuilding.
David Lloyd, who has stepped down as deputy leader of Hertfordshire County Council, was the main speaker at the launch of Herts Limited at the Old Palace, Hatfield House, this morning (Tuesday).
Elected to his PCC role on November 15, Mr Lloyd, remains a councillor on both Dacoum borough as well as the county council. But he told an audience of 100 business leaders he could no longer be referred to as “four jobs Lloyd”.
His former role as deputy leader involved economic development policies. He said if businesses were successful this would help keep Hertfordshire safe, which was the objective of his new policing role, too.
“We have a really important place, not just for ourselves, but for the UK’s economic growth, to lead us out of recession,” he said. But he argued there remain challenges, including a lack of international investment, poor east-west links, and a low level of speculative development which he said was “almost unbelievable”.
He added where to build housing and how to develop the county was a crucial issue. “If we do not increase our base of housing we are going to drive up the cost of housing,” he said. This would mean that companies would have problems attracting employees.
But Mr Lloyd, who described himself as a “market-driven politician” told his Herts Limited audience that the county’s potential was “un-limited.”
Herts Limited is the brainchild of assurance, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton, which used to have a base in Hemel Hempstead. It is the latest in a number of county-focused organisations being rolled out over the country designed to bring together business leaders in those areas.
Grant Thornton has analysed financial information from 250 privately owned companies that are based in the county and has produced a report which says Hertfordshire is “recovering strongly from the economic downturn”. Employment in those companies has risen by five percent and sales are up more than eight per cent.
The report, which was also launched at the meeting, says most sectors are doing well but property and construction is seeing presure on profit margins. And the food sector has seen jobs being lost as profits continue to be squeezed.