Bristol, Cardiff and Newport are launching a joint bid to create a “Great Western Powerhouse” to compete with the likes of Manchester and the Midlands.
Closer working, better connectivity and improved links between businesses will form the basis of a cluster of local authorities which will be known as the Great Western Cities (GWC), under plans laid out in a new report.
It is hoped the GWC group, which was set to be debated by city leaders in Bristol on Friday, will unlock the potential for greater devolution to the Bristol and Cardiff metropolitan areas.
Bristol mayor George Ferguson said the partnership would have “enormous economic benefits”, adding ”we are stronger working together”.
George Ferguson is teaming up with council leaders at Newport and Cardiff
The new report, commissioned by GWC and authored by Metro Dynamics, outlines the potential for the three city regions in strengthening transport links, expanding renewable energy and improving its international profile.
It follows two high-profile economic collaborations elsewhere in the UK – the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.
The new powerhouse would “not require the Great Western Cities to change their governance structures”, but the report adds the move could “coalesce” into a major devolution deal for more powers, as seen in Greater Manchester.
“The powers and resources that [devolution for Bristol and Cardiff metropolitan areas] will bring will be important and will also send a powerful message to governments about the seriousness of intentions in the area,” the report says.
However, the Greater Bristol area may hit a stumbling block with many local authorities and local parties already having ruled out a “metro mayor” system which is being introduced in Manchester.
The GWC will be well-placed to become a powerhouse as – unlike its northern and midland competitors – it is a net contributor to the treasury, the report argues.
The areas covered by the new powerhouse region has a current combined output of £46.2 billion a year, or £25,318 per person. The move together would create a total “uplift” worth £31.7 billion for the area.
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