Business leaders urge councils to approve devolution deal
The West of England’s four largest business groups, along with some of the region’s leading employers, have urged the councils to push through plans to win devolved powers and funding from UK government.
“The business community in the West of England has closely followed the Government’s proposals for devolution of funding and powers to Core City Regions and has been kept informed on the West of England’s proposals by the LEP.
“The announcement of a devolution deal for the West of England in the March budget marks a significant achievement by the four local authorities.
“As major employers and the four major business organisations in the West of England (Business West, CBI, IoD and the FSB) representing large and small businesses across our region, we wish to express our strong support for this ambitious devolution deal.
“While we believe the West of England has a successful economy and a bright future, we are concerned about declining productivity, skills shortages, inadequate transport infrastructure, congestion and the spiralling cost of housing.
“These issues are constraining our businesses now, increasing our costs and impacting on the lives of our employees.
“We believe this devolution deal will create the foundations to achieve a real and sustainable economic boost to the region, providing significant funding and more local autonomy and control over powers and resources.
“In particular, the devolution deal will provide access to new Government grants worth £900m to invest in much needed infrastructure including funding and powers to deliver key projects across the region that are being developed now under the Joint Spatial Plan.
“We can also see merit in more joined up working in the areas of planning, housing, transport and skills and closer cooperation with Government on promoting trade and investment in the region.
“We understand the deal on offer still has to be approved by a Full Council of each authority. We have confidence that this structure will work well for all four councils. It builds on the successful joint working relationships that currently exist and strengthen the position and profile of the West of England with central Government and with businesses and other stakeholders, nationally and internationally.
“We therefore strongly encourage you to support this devolution deal. We believe it is in the best long-term interests of this region, our employees and your constituents.”
“The business community across was delighted that a devolution deal was announced by the Chancellor in the March budget and recognises that this was a significant achievement by the four local authorities.
“Whilst we have a successful economy we do need to ensure we are best equipped to tackle such issues as declining productivity, skills shortages, inadequate infrastructure, congestion and the increasing cost of housing,” he said.
“In a global economy we simply cannot afford to stand still and it is essential that business is able to best compete and succeed now and into the future.
“We consider that this devolution deal will enable us to better equipped locally to tackle these key issues which in turn will impact on those on all who live and work here and right across the West of England. We strongly encourage the councils to formally approve the deal at their forthcoming meetings so this deal can move forward and happen.”