City Deal to usher in new economic future

Cllr Nigel Ashton – Leader of North Somerset Council

The drive from political heavyweights to create jobs and growth, and secure major investment for North Somerset and the wider region, is a step closer after the leaders of the four unitary councils and the chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership met the Deputy Prime Minister in Downing Street today.

They discussed the implementation of the City Region Deal agreement, which is intended to usher in a new relationship between the four unitary authorities and Government to deliver a step change in the economic performance of the region.

The City Deal is proposed to give increased financial flexibility and freedoms to the four local authorities to enable a focussed programme of investment in the area to maximise its economic potential.

The deal also seeks to close skills gaps, deliver essential infrastructure and attract new jobs.

It is hoped that the deal will deliver an additional 40,000 jobs and over £1 billion of investment to support local growth over the next 25 years.

The economic summit with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, confirmed the principles of the City Deal and supporting action plans which are made up of five elements such as growth incentives, transports, skills, growth hubs and a public property board.

Each authority will now be carefully evaluating the funding mechanisms outlined in the proposals with a view to considering the detailed contractual and financial obligations of the deal for formal agreement by each of the unitary authorities by June 2013.

Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council and Vice Chairman of the LEP comments: “This could be a major step forward for the West of England.

“An enormous amount of work has gone in to this negotiation with Government and we are now showing the significant benefits that can be achieved by the four local authorities continuing to work closely together for the benefit of all.”

“I am particularly pleased from a North Somerset perspective that the Deal could give us the tools to deliver our priority for job creation and strengthen our delivery of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area.

“It also heralds a much needed step change in rail transport including the Greater Bristol Metro scheme.”

Simon Cook Leader of Bristol City Council, comments: “This is a major step forward for Bristol and the West of England area in gaining more control over Whitehall funding. It means in practice that we can see substantial investment in our rail system and push forward our ambitions for key projects such as the arena at Temple Quarter.

“Importantly it sends out a very clear signal to business that Bristol and the West of England is the right place to set up and grow a business.”

Colin Skellett Chair of the West of England LEP, comments: “The City Deal is a significant step forward in recognising the importance of economic growth and local control.

“It will help deliver the LEP target of creating 95,000 new jobs by 2030.

“The City Deal funding will enable us to make a step change in transport infrastructure, service the enterprise sites, achieve closer alignment between business and skills providers and fund major improvements in inward investment.

“It clearly demonstrates the benefits of the close working between the four unitary authorities and business.”

The West of England area represents the four local authorities (Bristol City, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset) working together through the Local Enterprise Partnership.