LEP submits plan on area’s economic future

The strategy that sets out the plan for economic growth across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay is being submitted to Government today (31st March).

The Strategic Economic Plan outlines how public and private sector partners across the Heart of the South West will maximise economic growth, job creation and prosperity in the area from now until 2030:  it also details the area’s bid for a share of the government’s national £2 billion per year Single Local Growth Fund.

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has developed the strategy following an extensive consultation exercise, collating input from a wide range of businesses and organisations across the Heart of the South West area.

The consultation has been taking place over the last six months, culminating in the formal consultation earlier this year – hundreds of people from across the area attended workshops, events, meetings or completed the online survey.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive for the Heart of the South West LEP said: “I’d like to thank all the people who have provided comment and feedback on the Strategic Economic Plan: we have been adapting the strategy in light of this feedback, and with partners have been pulling forward our proposals for the Growth Deal 2015/16.

“Having consulted widely with hundreds of businesses and stakeholders, we have clearly identified where we now need to focus our efforts.  There is widespread ambition and potential throughout the area, but the current state of our transport, digital, skills and enterprise support infrastructure is an immense brake on growth.

“After years of under investment, all stakeholders agree that to achieve this vision will need investment in infrastructure on a transformational scale.  This single theme is the focus to our Growth Deal.

“Through the Growth Deal we are seeking freedoms, flexibilities and influence over resources from Government, and a share of the new Local Growth Fund to invest in transport, housing and skills: we will wait to hear from Government by the end of July about the next steps.”

The Heart of the South West’s plan include proposals to increase the capacity and resilience of area’s main rail and road corridor – including the M5, A303, A38 and A30 – and improve mobile and digital connectivity through the roll-out of superfast broadband.  Increased business competitiveness, through enhanced business support services and better workforce skills, is also an area of focus.

The plan also outlines how the area should capitalise on a number of key opportunities including the construction of Hinkley Point C, the award of the Plymouth & Peninsula City Deal, the potential siting of the Met Office’s supercomputer in Exeter and the development of the area’s existing strength in environmental data analysis, aerospace and advanced manufacturing.

The Minister for Cities, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said: “The Government welcomes the Strategic Economic Plan that Heart of the South West LEP has published today and looks forward to continued engagement with local civic and business leaders over the next few months on the negotiation of their Growth Deal.

“The Growth Deal provides a fantastic opportunity for Heart of the South West LEP to seek freedoms, flexibilities and influence over resources from government, and a share of the Local Growth Fund to put towards their the growth priorities set out in this Strategic Economic Plan. This provides the opportunity to unleash the ambition and creativity of Heart of the South West’s local leaders, by devolving resource and responsibility in return for compelling local economic leadership in pursuit of growth.”

The Minister of State for Transport, Baroness Kramer said: “As one of the Local Growth Ministers, I am pleased to say we have received the Strategic Economic Plan published by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. LEPs are proving highly effective engines for economic growth at local and regional levels.

“This is an exciting time for local communities who are showing real leadership in driving growth. Government looks forward to supporting LEPs in their efforts to generate jobs and stimulate growth.”