More than 150 local people, organisations and businesses marked a very special day this week as the Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) celebrated its first birthday.

On Tuesday 8th January it was a whole year since local businesses, councils and people first joined together their ideas and resources to give the Forest of Dean a voice as part of the Glos2050 big conversation.

The partnership members meet quarterly and run four sub-groups, working together to deliver a thriving and sustainable economy.

During its first year the partnership has submitted responses to consultations for the Cross-Rail Franchise, the Glos2050 Vision, Dene Magna Sixth Form, the Forest Hospital and the House of Lords Select Committee.

Its ‘education and skills sub group’ has worked with Dene Magna School on an idea to make work experience more flexible for both the students and participating businesses. The school now allows placements for work experience to be arranged at any point during the year, giving more young people the opportunity to gain experience in their area of interest.

Another success came in November when the Forest of Dean District Council picked up The Federation of Small Businesses’ award for the ‘most innovative small business campaign’. This was for the partnership’s early work addressing key challenges and opportunities in the Forest of Dean around education and skills, transport and infrastructure, digital connectivity, bridges and borders.

Cllr Richard Leppington, cabinet member for Development, Asset Management, Infrastructure and Housing said, “I wish a very happy first birthday to the 156 separate individuals, organisations and businesses which make up our Partnership.”