The Great Western Cities today released its report ‘Britain’s Western Powerhouse’, authored by Metro Dynamics. The report examines the benefits of greater ‘sharing, matching and learning’ between the three city regions – including an influential role for universities, businesses and civil society. The report also identifies major potential for the three city regions in strengthening transport links, expanding renewable energy and improving its international profile.
The full press release is below.
EMBARGO: Friday 12 February, 00:01am
Great Western Cities one step closer to realising Britain’s Western Powerhouse
The Severn region has the potential to become Britain’s next major economic ‘powerhouse’ according to a new report launched today (Friday 12 February 2016) by the Great Western Cities (GWC) - Bristol, Cardiff and Newport.
Commissioned by GWC and authored by Metro Dynamics, the report examines the benefits of greater ‘sharing, matching and learning’ between the three city regions – including an influential role for universities, businesses and civil society.
It concludes that collaboration could strengthen the voice of the west in UK economic and public policy decisions, positioning the area as a potential contender to take on a ‘powerhouse’ mantle.
The report was launched today at a special debate in Bristol hosted by Insider magazine. This touched on key topics from the report, which identifies major potential for the three city regions in strengthening transport links, expanding renewable energy and improving its international profile.
The assessment follows the emergence of two high profile economic collaborations elsewhere in the UK - the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine. Compared to the Northern Powerhouse the GWC already boast higher levels of commuting between Cardiff or Newport and Bristol than that between Manchester to Leeds or Liverpool.
Reducing journey times between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol by just 20 minutes could result in savings of more than £1 billion over the next 60 years.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “The Great Western Cities offer a strong economic area with huge potential for further growth. This welcome report confirms what we suspected when we formed this extremely promising alliance with Cardiff and Newport – that we are stronger working together and between us there are many areas which are ripe for collaboration which can benefit all sides.”
Phil Bale, the Leader of the City of Cardiff Council, said: “This report makes clear that the Great Western Cities represent a big opportunity for the British economy. Though our economic performance is strong, it could be stronger. Though we perform well compared to other UK powerhouse areas, we are lagging behind the top European performers. This report marks an important moment in making sure that this happens. We will now build on the great work currently underway in our respective city-regions to make sure that the Great Western Cities are better connected to each other, to other Powerhouse areas and to the world.”
Councillor Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council said: “It is no coincidence that Newport’s presence on the UK stage has risen since the inception of the Great Western Cities collaboration. We truly have strength-in-depth with these three ambitious and unique city partners working closely together for a combined benefit. Today’s report further strengthens the case that we already fully support.”
Ben Lucas, Managing Director of Metro Dynamics added: “The case for a Great Western Powerhouse is a strong one. Our research shows that there are already more people commuting between the Cardiff and Bristol Metros than between Leeds and Manchester, even though the journey is equally slow. As with the Northern Powerhouse, better connectivity will reap big rewards in creating a larger, more productive labour market across the Great Western Cities. This is Britain's western opportunity - it's up to the three cities, business and Government to seize it.”
The GWC launched an initial prospectus in spring 2015. During the last year, the cities have been focused on developing their own regional devolution deals working with their respective governments. The potential for a new economic powerhouse for the west will build on any devolution deals which are secured, but is purely about connectivity and collaboration. This means it would complement but not supersede any devolution deal for any area and would not impose a formal system of governance between the cities.
For media queries please contact:
Bristol City Council: Kate Ashton, Senior Public Relations Officer, 0117 922 2732, firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Cardiff Council: Ian Lloyd-Davies, ILloyd-Davies@cardiff.gov.uk, 02920 872969
Newport City Council: Jon Hollins, Communications Manager, Jonathan.Hollins@newport.gov.uk, 01633 210454
Metro Dynamics: Ben Lucas, 0203 817 7621, email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
1. Further comment and interview opportunities are available at a press conference on Friday 12 February, 10:30-11:30am at Marriott Hotel (Empire 1&2), 2 Lower Castle Street, Bristol BS1 3AD. To register please contact Kate Ashton at Bristol City Council on 0117 922 2732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Economic modelling undertaken by Peter Brett Associates has shown that a 20-minute reduction in journey times would result in a 60-year present value figure of welfare benefits of £1.38 billion.