A new economic partnership which aims to deliver a £56bn boost to the South West and South Wales by 2030 has today published its official prospectus.
The Western Gateway project unites the area’s major cities and a host of rural communities across the wider economic area, and will become the UK’s third powerhouse region after the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
Its ambition – evolved through discussion with local authorities, businesses and LEPs – is to further stimulate the area’s economy by stimulating investment, connectivity and innovation.
It aims too to achieve all of this alongside a commitment to help the area achieve a net zero future.
Western Gateway Chairman Katherine Bennett said: “With eight strong cities across the Gateway, alongside rural communities in the wider economic area, the Western Gateway already outperforms the UK average in terms of economic output, and is primed and ready to do so much more.
“Working together across borders we offer a unique proposition to UK plc: to propel transformative, inclusive and greener growth as part of building a new future for the British economy.
“Whilst we are an economic high performer, we are also a region of contrasts, with significant pockets of deprivation, low skills and low pay in some of our cities and rural areas.
“Through harnessing the Western Gateway’s innovation and geographical assets we can make a huge difference to people’s lives.
“We can release the untapped potential of our cities, towns and villages, and provide real amplification and additionality to existing projects, infrastructure and industrial strategies.
“Delivering this vision will add more than £56bn to the UK economy by 2030, helping us lead the UK’s transition to a net zero future.”
Cities and towns embracing the project include Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Weston-super-Mare and Salisbury in England, and Cardiff, Newport and Swansea in Wales.
This amounts to an area which is home to 4.4 million people and 159,650 businesses which deliver 2.1 million jobs and an economic output of £107bn.
Immediate priorities for this tear include establishing a new leadership board, evolving the full vision, consultation and fact-finding, and the drafting of a detailer businesses case for investment propositions from the government and international investors.
Longer-term ambitions include delivering ‘world-class physical and digital connectivity’, unlocking housing growth and transitioning to net-zero, becoming ‘Britain’s gateway to global markets’ by growing exports, and driving collaboration and innovation in tech, research and academia.
Bennett added: “The proposal we’ve put on the table is one that will deliver the economic boost the region requires to maximise its potential.
“Our prospectus provides an insight into the journey we are undertaking together as a partnership of businesses and authorities, determined to deliver growth from Swansea to Swindon and Cheltenham to Weston.”
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles has already thrown his weight behind the initiative.
Speaking at the partnership’s launch, he said: “Boosting economic growth and driving up productivity in the West of England is my priority as West of England Mayor.
“We’re always interested in wider regional collaboration where it can bring significant benefits for the broader region.
“As a partnership between government, businesses, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Combined Authority and local councils, Western Gateway gives us an opportunity to join together our existing strengths to create a real economic powerhouse in the West.”
View the Western Gateway prospectus here.