Welcome to ‘A Powerhouse for the West’

As Great Western Cities, Bristol City Council, Cardiff Council and Newport City Council propose the creation of the UK’s next powerhouse.

The powerhouse would stretch along the M4 corridor, from Swindon and across the Welsh border to Cardiff and Swansea, and in the north from Gloucester and Cheltenham to Bath and Bristol. Areas that have unique strengths in advanced engineering, creative and digital media, finance and professional services.

A new report that you can read here (link to DL report) presents strong evidence for a cross-border partnership that would supercharge infrastructure, investment, internationalisation and inclusive growth.  The region already has an economy worth £107bn, if we grow to meet the UK average, we’ll become a £1.21bn economy.

A ‘Powerhouse for the West’ is the missing piece of the jigsaw in the economic map of Britain.

Quotes from all “A Powerhouse for the West” partners:

Councillor Dine Romero, Bath & North East Somerset Council leader, said: “I welcome this opportunity to work with key partners in some of our adjacent English authorities as well as close neighbours in South Wales to explore the idea of a powerhouse. We have wider ambitions for the region to be an exemplar for tackling climate emergency and actively proving its green credentials. Working together as a regional power house could help to secure significant investment in areas like sustainable infrastructure in order to make a significant impact on the fundamental issue of climate emergency.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Our ultimate vision is to create a serious, long-term, cross-border partnership. We already export £18.4bn of goods and £11bn of services every year – we want to further promote our excellent trade and investment opportunities by developing an internationalisation strategy. In a post-Brexit world export based growth will be of huge importance to economic development and this collaboration has the potential to ensure this region competes with high growth regions around the world.

“Achieving this will mean unblocking the bottlenecks across the M4 and M5; connecting people and communities in our most deprived areas with skills and employment opportunities.”

Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council said: “This is just the start of the conversation and our next step will be to set up a leadership vehicle to shape this initiative and drive it forward.

“This report talks about complementing rather than competing with existing strategies and partnerships. We would be developing a partnership between public and private sectors across this seven cities region, with representatives from local enterprise partnerships, businesses and universities and with the backing of national government.”

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council said: “As a county, we are ambitious about what we want to achieve for Gloucestershire in the years ahead. This ambition is clearly set out in the Vision 2050 strategy, which is led by council and business leaders from across the county and focusses on developing greater opportunities for young people, an ever increasing number of high value jobs and securing significant ongoing investment in the county’s infrastructure – making the county a great place to live, work and invest in. Being part of a western powerhouse will ensure we can make the most of every opportunity, for the good of both the county and the region as a whole.”

Cllr Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “The opportunities that a powerhouse could capitalise and enrich are vast. The region already has an economy worth £107bn, which is 10% higher than the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, yet our growth is slower than average. If we only grow to meet the UK average, we will become a £1.21bn economy – just think of the potential if this powerhouse was created.”

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, added: “These are exciting times for Swansea. We are already part of a £1.3bn City Deal and we’re seeing new public and private sector investment in the city and south west Wales.

“It is still early days but it is important that we work closely with our colleagues in councils along the M4 and great western rail line to improve connectivity, both digitally and physically.

“Being part of this powerhouse would complement the City Deal and help to transform the economy and profile of South West Wales.

“This does not undermine our City Deal arrangements. It is a new collaboration on top of the existing city region structures in Wales and allows the Swansea Bay City Region to work closely with south west cities for the economic benefit of the South West of the U.K.”

Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “In Swindon we are fortunate to have one of the best-performing local economies in the country, but we want to do even better, which is why we fully support the case for our region to have its own powerhouse.

“We already have fantastic connectivity, but we recognise the huge benefits that are to be gained from working more closely with our neighbours in the Western region so we make the most of any opportunities to improve our infrastructure and attract investment in the future. It would also build on the links we are establishing with England’s Economic Heartland, which provides leadership on strategic infrastructure in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor.

“The powerhouses that have already been established elsewhere in the UK are predicting large increases in GVA (Gross Value Added) and productivity levels and there is no reason with a strong cross-border partnership approach we cannot do as well or even better.”

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “I have long been a strong advocate of a powerhouse for this part of the UK because I recognise the strength that exists across the Severn and beyond. This is why one of my first decisions as Secretary of State was to remove the tolls on the Severn crossings which have hindered this region’s potential for too long.

“While the report sets out a strong evidence base for this initiative, now we’ve got to generate inclusive collaboration amongst all stakeholders in south Wales and the south west of England to make this ambition a reality.”

Ben Lucas, Managing Director of MetroDynamics: “Our analysis shows that the Great Western Powerhouse is a powerhouse waiting to happen. In the post-Brexit world, export-based growth will be critical and the region has the opportunity to lead this, competing with high growth regions around the world.”