As we heard in last week’s Queen’s Speech, the new Conservative Government is making regional economic development a key part of its policy for securing the overall economic recovery of the UK, exemplified by the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ around Manchester.
This exciting new approach to regional economic development in England involves the devolution of significant powers from central government departments to local authorities, which are ideally placed to make the required strategic choices due to their detailed knowledge of the local economy and their democratic accountability.
As part of this new Government agenda on devolution, Buckinghamshire County Council is joining those of Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire to form an economic alliance that is asking the Government for a five-year Growth Deal that will combine the different existing funding streams and allow the three counties to come together to drive forward the prosperity of the whole region.
We’ve called the alliance ‘England’s Economic Heartland’, as our three counties are at the heart of the UK’s global competitive position in science and technology based innovation, and a major powerhouse of the UK economy that generates worth close to that of Manchester. Together, the three counties can cooperate to provide strategic leadership for the whole region, working to improve information and transport infrastructure, deliver responsive skills and training investment for our workforce, and provide a coordinated investment programme for future growth.
That’s why, encouraged by their enlightened approach to projects such as the Northern Powerhouse, we’re asking the Government to place their trust in us by entering into the five-year Growth Deal that will allow the England’s Economic Heartland alliance to capitalise on the amazing skills and talent in our region to benefit our people and the UK economy as a whole.