Economic growth that benefits every resident is at the core of a new vision for the West of England, launched today (Wednesday 26 July).
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles and Interim Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Professor Steve West, presented the draft strategy to delegates at the University of the West of England.
“Over the next four years, in partnership with the councils and business, I will lead a region that delivers economic growth for all, ensuring residents benefit from more job opportunities, a stronger economy and higher quality of life,” said Tim.
“Since I was elected in May, I’ve been working with our council partners, businesses, universities and colleges, housing and transport providers, and learned more about their challenges and priorities. This draft strategy has been developed as a result of those conversations and will become the framework around which important future decisions, including funding decisions, will be made.”
He said three priorities are beginning to emerge: “The first priority is to build on our strengths as a leader in innovation, high tech and creativity, and continue to nurture successful businesses. Secondly we need to ensure that our residents have the right skills for our regional businesses. Thirdly we must put the foundations in place to create more homes that are affordable, improve public transport, roads, cycle and pedestrian routes, as well as digital connectivity.
“We have a great opportunity, working together, to get this right. I would like businesses, organisations and others to get involved and give us their views on the draft strategy and how we can drive economic growth for all.”
Professor Steve West said: “This is our chance to get serious about how we work together to promote the unique benefits of our fantastic region. The West of England has a lot to offer with good links to London, the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. We have world-class universities, industry and healthcare sectors and we need to build on our significant heritage and strengths.
“The LEP is fully behind this regional strategy and we will do everything in our power to create an ambitious, prosperous and sustainable future for all. To do that we must think and operate strategically and for the long-term. We will need significant investment over many years and we must all work effectively with one voice to deliver that investment, and make the most of this huge opportunity to create a world-leading city region. This is about our collective futures – we need to be ambitious and focused to deliver a more equal and sustainable future for all.”
The draft strategy is available on the West of England Combined Authority website – www.westofengland-ca.org.uk – where there is also an online questionnaire to provide feedback.
This feedback will be incorporated into a final strategy to be published in the autumn, which will used to inform the West of England Combined Authority’s more detailed plans, priorities and funding decisions.
The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership are joint authors of the draft strategy discussion paper. The Combined Authority covers Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and supports the LEP and Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.