Grimsby's new growth director thrives on emerging industrial opportunities

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 10 Apr 2019

Meet Clive Tritton, the new man ensuring the Grimsby-area is geared up for growth.

He has taken on the role of interim director of regeneration and growth at North East Lincolnshire Council, following the new year departure of Angela Blake to West Yorkshire

Originally from Newcastle, Mr Tritton has spent the most part of his career in London boroughs, and is relishing the calling half-way home – after learning of the opportunities new industry is creating.  

The largest part of his CV focuses on the organisation Renaisi, the development agency that span out of Hackney Council, spending 20 years there, and the final seven as chief executive. 

He also worked in Shoreditch and Enfield, at the former working on developing a thriving evening economy and the latter as part of the delivery team bringing forward Meridian Water, a £6 billion 10,000 home, 6,000 new jobs development.

Meridian Water at Enfield, north London, which sits between the M25 and North Circular. 

Mr Tritton also acted as an economic growth advisor to the Local Government Association with authorities in the south east.

Currently familiarising himself with key stakeholders across the borough, he was encouraged by his first meeting of the public/private development and growth board, while taking in Grimsby Fish Market, Orsted’s East Coast Hub and Catch since his arrival. It has furthered the perspective given by chief executive Rob Walsh and deputy Joanne Hewson when considering the role.

“I said yes, after a pause,” he said. “I looked into it, saw opportunities and very quickly became excited. 

“When I met Rob (pictured left) and Jo, I was struck by the ambition for economic growth, the economic investment, and that was what attracted me.  I think perception is very different from reality. There is enormous opportunity around the new industries coming out of the ports. The growth potential of offshore wind struck me as enormous. We are such a leading light in offshore wind, and there is unbelievable growth there which is really, really exciting. 

“There’s also the relationship with central government, the Town Deal, it makes it a place that has an opportunity to be quite transformational. I see the deal is the vehicle for the aspiration and appetite.”

The open ended role comes as Mr Walsh balances NELC and Clinical Commissioning Group responsibilities, with Mr Tritton honest and open about being “asked to fill a gap for as long as I can be helpful”. 

And he’s identified challenges to unlock economic prosperity gifted by geography that had so often, historically, been a barrier. 

“What we’re really trying to do is understand what we need to put in place to ensure that benefit is for the existing community in North East Lincolnshire,” he said. “It is a case of looking at what is on the horizon for employment, and what skills gaps we need to support to ensure we are part of that. 

“There is a real appetite across the country for apprenticeships, and I think we have a lot of industries that really lend themselves to apprenticeship opportunities. We are starting to think now about what opportunities are coming along in five or 10 years time, encouraging people into these industries and see careers flourish in the area from start to finish.” 

He’s aware of the challenges too, with opportunity on the doorstep one to help break down lack of aspiration, while making the area - and particularly Grimsby - attractive to ‘work, stay and play’ is one on the to-do list.

“I grew-up, career-wise, in and around Shoreditch, and while some of what has gone on there has been market-driven, we saw very small things could help target change. We had a hotel strategy that started bringing people in, for example. It is now very clear that our town centres are not going to thrive by relying on a retail offer. How we make them community places and how we bring people in to these town centres, well, it needs to be for all different reasons. We need a post-work 5pm to 8pm economy, and to bring businesses back in as they cannot just be retail.

Westermost Rough offshore wind farm. 

“We have seen this week with Debenhams, now a lot of town centres are thinking ‘there is an anchor site with an uncertain future’. We have to build a town centre that is resilient to that sort of change, and leisure remains an important part of that.” The Grimsby town centre cinema saga shows no sign of opening credits just yet, as it becomes a chicken and egg scenario with the high street’s much publicised ills knocking investor confidence, with Freshney Place up for sale.  Building the town’s largest capacity theatre – Grimsby Auditorium – on the edge of a housing estate back in the mid-Nineties hasn’t particularly helped that evening economy either.

“We also need to capitalise on business visitor economy as well as tourism, where there is a strong offer with a lot of investment going in, making it an exciting part of the economy,” Mr Tritton continued. “In business tourism, there is a good level of disposable income there.” 

‚ÄčThis can be witnessed in Cleethorpes week-in week-out, with the resort thriving through a recession as wind turbines popped up in the near North Sea, and continuing to sustain the growth out of season.

“We don’t just want to think about big investors on the Humber Bank either,” the keen traveller, former cricketer and avid football fan added. “SME businesses are massively important. The recovery from the 08/09 crash has been a SME-led recovery, and we mustn’t forget about that.”

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