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Great South West partners deliver investment roadmap to Local Growth Minister
An economic roadmap to drive a £45 billion uplift to the South West economy has been formally presented to the government.
The Great South West prospectus sets out how the area spanning Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the Heart of the South West (Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay) and Dorset aims to become the latest growth alliance to rebalance the UK economy, alongside the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse.
Today (Wednesday, January 22) a delegation comprising business leaders, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), MPs and local authorities presented Minister for Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, with the growth prospectus and briefed him on ambitions to deliver £45 billion of economic benefit and 190,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.
Minister for Local Growth Rt Hon Jake Berry MP said: “This Government is committed to levelling up every part of the country and giving people the opportunities to unlock their full potential wherever they live.
“We’re already investing over £415 million from our Local Growth Fund in exciting and innovative projects across the South West like Spaceport Cornwall, the Somerset Innovation Centre and the Port of Poole.
“I am looking forward to working with local leaders to explore how we build on this investment and the many strengths of this region to create thousands of jobs, boost business and grow the economy so people across the South West can benefit for generations to come.”
Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP, said: “We have set out to the Minister how by working together we can unlock our region’s huge potential to be the UK’s world leader in clean growth. That plays to the strengths and ambitions of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but we are at a critical point where the support of Government is required to help us realise our shared vision.”
Councillor Julian German, Leader of Cornwall Council, said: “The South West is made up of many different and distinct places, but by working together like this we have shown that we are a powerful region that is prepared to speak with one voice and do what is needed to boost the local economy.
“I will continue to press the Government to ensure that Cornwall Council gets the funding that we need to protect and enhance vital services for our residents. By coming together as the Great South West, we have proven that our ambition for our communities transcends boundaries.”
At the heart of the Great South West growth prospectus is the ambition to make the area the cleanest economy in England and the first to be net zero carbon.
Its focus is on creating world-leading growth in the ‘green’ and ‘blue’ economies, backed by a wealth of natural assets on land and sea, groundbreaking companies and research expertise.
Formal submission of the prospectus follows a Downing Street summit in December between Great South West partners and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said at the time: “The South West campaign is a great one and your region is an absolute priority to me. So I can assure you that we want to support and champion everything you do."
Sir Gary Streeter, Chair of the Great South West All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and Conservative MP for South West Devon, arranged today’s meeting with the Minister.
Sir Gary said: “I am delighted that our region is increasingly coming together to present a compelling united case to Westminster and Whitehall about our strategic investment needs. The Great South West has found its voice.”
APPG Co-Chair and Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: “With all the talk since the election of the needs of regions in the north of England, it’s vital we remind this Government that the Great South West is as much in need of investment, particularly in infrastructure, as any other neglected region and we need to ensure as much as possible that we speak with one voice on behalf of our region.”
Also attending the meeting was John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council and Lead Councillor for the Great South West partnership. He said: "The South West must speak with one voice if we are to make an impact with government. We need a fast, efficient alternative to the M5, a secure rail service and effective broadband for our rural areas. We have a good story to tell and we must do it with one voice if our region is to prosper in the future.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Great South West partnership, added: “Our message to the Minister is that the Great South West is up for the challenge of delivering England’s first net zero carbon region, but we can’t do it alone. As is the case elsewhere in the country, we need Government to work alongside us to deliver our shared objectives and accelerate the move to a cleaner, more prosperous economy.”
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “We’re delighted to present our compelling case for recognition of the Great South West to the Minister for Local Growth today. We’ve got enormous economic potential and we need to be as high-profile as England’s industrial heartlands. Our region has been historically under-invested in, and now is the time to re-dress the balance in partnership with Government to secure greater prosperity for all. This prospectus sees the region coming together as one to present a cohesive case to Government and I hope that they will recognise this opportunity for the region and the wider UK as a whole.”
Jim Stewart, Chair of the Dorset LEP, said: “Our alliance as the Great South West provides an opportunity to work at scale on common interests – connecting our rural communities, making the most of our natural assets to drive tourism and productivity and focusing on cleaner, smarter growth. Today, we have presented a united proposal to the Minister highlighting the need for investment in digital technology and automation, and providing better access to training and education. This is pivotal to driving productivity in our region, particularly as we strive to become the leader for the green and blue economies in the UK.”
The Great South West prospectus sets out how, with Government support, the Great South West can be a test bed for new thinking and new technologies to accelerate the move to a greener, more prosperous economy, and tackle shared challenges like poor connectivity, an ageing population, poor productivity and climate change.
Specifically, it calls for:
• Formal recognition of the Great South West as a growth alliance aimed at rebalancing the UK economy, with an identified Minister to link into Government.
• £2 million over three years to build a business case for investment across a range of projects.
• A Great South West Tourism Zone to help the industry become more productive, sustainable and adaptable.
• An agreement to create a Rural Productivity Deal, addressing the specific needs of the rural economy.
To view a copy of the Great South West prospectus click here.