On Tuesday 30th April, MPs from across the Great South West region came together with local leaders and businesses to launch the Great South West All Party Parliamentary Group.
The new group will be chaired by Sir Gary Streeter MP and Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP and will bring together MPs, councils and businesses from across the region to promote a regional identity to rival the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
Sir Gary Streeter, Member of Parliament for South West Devon spoke at the launch and highlighted the great potential for industry in the region including agriculture, defence, the marine and maritime industries and nuclear power. Yet barriers to prosperity remain due to issues including underfunded transport infrastructure and lack of productivity in rural areas.
The Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry MP joined the launch and spoke on the importance for the Great South West to build a business case for investment in the region which could include Education, Transport and Devolution beyond major cities.
Sir Gary said
â€œThis is a really exciting time for our region, the South West has a vast array of opportunities which have yet to be realised in defence, aerospace, marine, rural, hi-tech and nuclear. By working together with one voice we will build a business case and press the case directly to HM Government to invest in the Great South West.â€
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Great South West Partnership said:
â€œIt’s great to come together as partners to speak up for our region. Transport connectivity will be a key part of our business case, including pushing for funding the A303 improvements and creation of Sub-National Transport Bodies within our region. I look forward to being part of the discussions going forward.â€
St Austell & Newquay MP Steve Double, who spoke at the launch event, said:
â€œRural areas make a huge contribution to the prosperity and wellbeing of the UK and by coming together around a shared agenda we can make the case for more investment. All six Cornish MPs attended the launch and we look forward to working with the group to drive our economy forwards. There are a number of great opportunities ahead for Cornwall including development of the space sector, lithium extraction and geo-thermal energy. By joining forces with our neighbours we can work together to realise Cornwall’s full economic potential.â€
Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP said:
â€œThis was another excellent opportunity for us to show what Dorset and the South West has to offer UK plc. The South West economy is nationally significant and is larger than any combined authority – double the size of both Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Our alliance of regional business leaders, academic heads and local authorities is determined to win backing for our plans that will put the region on the economic map.â€