The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership today agreed an historic Growth Deal with the Government which will see £212.6million invested in the West of England.
A total of £79million has been confirmed in the first year and as part of the Government's on-going commitment to the West of England LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £133.6million of funding from 2016/17 onwards. The Deal will help create up to 5,000 jobs, and generate up to £70 million in public and private sector investment.
The key features of the deal are:
- Terabit West: is a world-first and will ensure the West of England is positioned at the forefront of ground breaking, next generation broadband. It will provide the infrastructure for companies to test new technology
- Bristol Robotics Institute of Technology: specialist facilities, advanced tools and support to enable key industry and academics to collaborate to develop new technologies and products
- MetroWest Phases 1 and 2 will deliver half hourly cross-Bristol rail services, including reopening the Portishead and Henbury rail lines, to improve travel across the West of England and improve access to the key growth sites.
The West of England Growth Deal is part of a £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are the latest and greatest example of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country.
Stephen Williams MP for Bristol West, who as Minister for Communities is Vice Chair of the cabinet sub committee on local growth, which appraised all 39 Strategic Economic Plans said:
"This growth deal shows the Coalition Government's continuing commitment to boosting Bristol's position as the most dynamic and prosperous city region in the country.
"The deal will build on our existing strengths in robotics and composites. It will also enable major investment in our rail network, bringing back passenger services in north Bristol and linking Portishead to the city centre. The £79million announced for next year is in addition to the £6million I announced in May for investment in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone.
"Bristol's economy is now growing strongly and unemployment has plummeted. Today's good news will give a further spurt to that growth and will increase business confidence that Bristol is the best place to invest."
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, said:
"The West of England Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people and create next-generation broadband; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
"We're placing the power and money in the hands of people in the West of England who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities."
Colin Skellet, LEP Chair said:
"This is the first time we have created a joined-up growth plan for the West of England on this scale and level of ambition, with buy-in right across the area. This has involved carrying out wide engagement with both the public sector and local business, undertaking a period of public consultation, and going through a rigorous process to identify projects that will bring jobs and investment in innovation, transport infrastructure and skills provision".
"Government has said that our plan is strong and ambitious, and compares favourably to other areas. Naturally, there's some disappointment that there hasn't been the opportunity to fund more of our transformational growth programme, but we recognise that this is just the first allocation of funding against our strategic economic plan. We will shortly be starting discussions on the next round of funding to begin from 2016/17 and believe we will be well placed to secure further funding in future rounds."
Steve West, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West of England said:
"The West of England is increasingly being seen as a leader in a number of sectors, such as high tech, creative and digital innovation. The Local Growth Deal recognises these strengths and provides the means to deliver a number of key projects that will secure our place at the forefront of these sectors. Having the right skills in our workforce is also key to the area's success and so the funding to ensure we can provide the right skills for our industry is vital. This will complement the £4 million just announced for the University Enterprise Zone."