Independent report sets out recommendations for economic success in the Western Gateway

A new report published today highlights cyber technology, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and the green economy as sectors than can drive economic recovery and growth across south Wales and west England. It recommends that a priority focus should be raising productivity levels to above average, and that land, buildings and people currently unemployed or underemployed are brought back with renewed purpose.

The independent report ‘Western Gateway Economic Position Statement’, was commissioned by the Western Gateway Partnership and produced by Oxford Economics and Hardisty Jones Associates. To make the most of the opportunities available to the Western Gateway it must now identify clear objectives and measures of success.  It’s recommended that this forms part of the next stage of the Western Gateway Independent Economic Review.

It also notes that the current geography of the Western Gateway works well in economic terms. At present the Western Gateway Partnership stretches from Swansea in the west to Swindon in the east and from Salisbury in the south to Cheltenham in the north. The partnership area covers a population of 4.4m people and includes nine ports and major road, rail and air transport routes.

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway said:

““The first phase of our Independent Economic Review provides an excellent foundation and evidence base for our work in the Western Gateway. It sets a clear direction to ensure we enhance our strengths, build on our reputation as a great place to live and work, and ready ourselves to address both the major challenges we collectively face to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency.”

Richard Holt, Head of Global Cities Research at Oxford Economics, said:

“The Western Gateway is one of the UK’s most promising regions, with great strength in modern technologies and excellent universities. If partners can pull together and build on what each part offers the others, it can achieve faster growth for the benefit of all residents.”

Stuart Hardisty, Director at Hardisty Jones Associates, said:

“It was clear, in speaking to many partners and stakeholders, that the partnership is maturing and there is a strong desire to build momentum, capitalising on the key sector strengths and opportunities across the Western Gateway. Grappling with how to deliver sustainable and inclusive improvements for the whole area, as well as identifying where to collaborate with other partnerships will be the next phase.”

A second phase of the independent economic review will be conducted during Spring/Summer 2021, and will include a series of in-depth analysis of the strengths and opportunities identified in the Western Gateway to deliver clean, green and inclusive growth.

Western Gateway powerhouse announces new board members

Representatives of two of the country’s leading universities have joined the board of the Western Gateway Partnership to support efforts to ignite economic recovery and growth across south Wales and west England.

Professor Julie Lydon OBE, Vice-Chancellor, and Chief Executive of the University of South Wales, and Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor, and President of the University of Bristol, will join other members of the Western Gateway Partnership Board in their collective effort in propelling a greener, fairer, stronger Britain.

Professor Julie Lydon OBE is Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of South Wales, a position she has held since 2010. She has also held the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) since joining the University in 2006. Julie is highly experienced in academic leadership including merger, and is passionate about widening access to education, developing collaborative industry partnerships and quality. Professor Lydon is currently Chair of Universities Wales, and a board member of Universities UK, University Alliance, National Council for Universities and Businesses, CBI Wales and Newport Economic Network.

Professor Julie Lydon OBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of South Wales, said:

“Universities are well placed to support economic and social development, producing future generations of work-ready, skilled graduates. Our staff and students are also at the heart of driving innovation with applied research and solutions, that are making a positive difference now and for the future. Everything that we do at USW is aimed at collaboration and partnerships, and therefore I am very much looking forward to working as part of the Western Gateway to explore how our collective efforts can drive long-lasting benefits for the region.” 

Professor Hugh Brady is Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, a role he has held since 2015. Previously serving as President of University College of Dublin from 2004 to 2013.

Professor Brady trained in general medicine and nephrology and was awarded PhD and MD degrees for research in renal physiology and molecular medicine respectively. His academic career as a physician-scientist included positions at Harvard Medical School, the University of Toronto and UCD. Since coming to Bristol, Professor Brady has led an institution-wide strategic planning process, which has yielded both a new Vision and Strategy for the University.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said:

“As a global civic university, Bristol is committed to working with local partners to benefit the people who live, work or visit our region. In this spirit, I’m delighted to join the Partnership Board and look forward to supporting the Western Gateway secure its place on the international research, development and business investment stage.” 

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway, said:

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of two new members to the Western Gateway Partnership Board. Julie and Hugh bring with them new expertise and experience from both sides of the Severn. Their presence, guidance and advice will play an integral part in ensuring the partnership continues in its role in driving green sustainable growth across the region.” 

The Western Gateway / Porth y Gorllewin launched in November 2019, with a focus on inclusive and clean economic growth where scale and collaboration achieves more for people then its constituent parts can achieve individually. The collective efforts of the Western Gateway Partnership Board will unleash the regions full potential and blaze the trail for the UK’s next generation economy.

Western Gateway recruits for two independent business board members

The Western Gateway Partnership is recruiting two business representatives to join its Partnership Board. The successful candidates will help deliver the strategic objectives of the Western Gateway and will champion the Western Gateway Partnership through engagement with Government, the business sector and industry. Business representatives are asked to apply by 28 March 2021.

The two new business members will join a dynamic Board Chaired by Katherine Bennett CBE, Senior Vice-President of Airbus and soon to be CEO of the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult. The Board include Local Authority partners, the West of England Combined Authority, the Cardiff Capital Region, three Local Enterprise Partnerships and two Higher Education representatives.

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway said:

“The Western Gateway has some fantastic businesses and this is an opportunity to ensure their voices are represented at a strategic level. Businesses are hugely important in delivering our ambitions as a Partnership and will add valuable expertise to our Board. I am looking forward to working with the successful applicants over the next two years.”  

Interested business representatives can find further details about the role by clicking here.

First cross-border ‘powerhouse’ the Western Gateway / Porth y Gorllewin launches new website and prospectus

A new economic partnership across south Wales and western England which aims to boost local economies by working together launches a new website and prospectus today. The Western Gateway, launched by Cabinet Ministers in November 2019, is the UK’s third powerhouse after the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.

The Western Gateway is a partnership of eight strong cities alongside rural communities in a wide economic area. The Western Gateway, however, goes one step further than the ‘regional’ powerhouses formed to date. The Western Gateway stretches across south Wales as well as western England so is cross-border.

All partners intend to focus on inclusive and clean economic growth, where scale and collaboration can achieve more for the people and the wider economies of countries involved than our constituent parts could achieve alone.

A new prospectus for the Western Gateway outlines the emerging vision and the key ambitions for the economic partnership.  The prospectus has been developed through discussions between the partnership’s local authorities, businesses, LEPs and city regions. It sets out the scale of the Western Gateway’s ambitions and identifies the emerging strategic priorities of:

  •                connectivity
  •                innovation; and
  •                 a co-ordinated international approach to trade and investment.

Delivering this vision will add more than £56bn to the UK economy by 2030 and help us achieve a net zero future.

Chair of the Western Gateway, and SVP for Airbus in the UK, Katherine Bennett CBE, said:

“Our prospectus is one that will deliver the economic boost the region requires to maximise its potential. It provides an insight into the journey we are undertaking together with businesses, industry and authorities, determined to deliver growth from Swansea to Swindon and Cheltenham to Weston.”

 The Western Gateway prospectus comes ahead of a full vision document for the partnership, following the completion of an Independent Economic Review later in 2020 that will provide an evidence base across the countries, area and regions of the partnership. Across Britain the economic map is being reshaped by devolution and regional powerhouses.

Visit and read our prospectus at: www.western-gateway.co.uk

Cross-border Western Gateway will form new ‘powerhouse’ in UK economy

From L-R: Secretary Alun Cairns (Wales), Katherine Bennett (Airbus) and Secretary Robert Jenrick (MHCLG)

From L-R: Secretary Alun Cairns (Wales), Katherine Bennett (Airbus) and Secretary Robert Jenrick (MHCLG)

Western Gateway launched at ICC Wales

The pooling of cross-border skills and expertise on both sides of the Severn estuary can drive prosperity for the region, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick will say today (1 November) at an event to launch the Western Gateway.

The Western Gateway is a strategic partnership promoting and maximising economic growth across south Wales and the west of England to create jobs, boost prosperity and support the world-renowned universities and businesses of the region.

Linking a number of towns and cities across a wide region either side of the Severn the Western Gateway will mirror the successful, established work of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine and will seek to ensure that the region is globally competitive.

At the ICC in Newport, Mr Cairns and Mr Jenrick will tell an audience of partners from business, education, cultural and digital sectors that the Western Gateway has the potential to transform the economic prospects of the region, making it easier to do business, to increase inward investment and tourism and create jobs.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick is providing £400,000 from existing budgets for start-up funding to kick-start the partnership.

Katherine Bennett, Senior Vice President of Airbus, will be announced as the first acting chair of the Western Gateway, who will lead and shape the governance, management and initial priorities for the partnership.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns will say:

The Western Gateway will provide an arena for the joint strengths of two neighbouring areas with distinct identities and traditions to be harnessed.

South Wales and the west of England already form a natural economic region with excellent transport networks in road and rail and well-established links in business, industry and education.

The region can be a true powerhouse of the UK economy if we take this opportunity to galvanise its many strengths to generate ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship in order to stimulate jobs and growth.

It also highlights how our United Kingdom is strengthened by maximising and harnessing in partnership the skills and talents of our nations and regions.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP will say:

The Western Gateway will draw on the diverse talents of both sides of the Severn to deliver an economic powerhouse that will drive growth throughout the region.

Already a major centre for cyber and tech, research, manufacturing and the creative industries – there’s clearly huge potential for them to achieve even greater things together.

As this Government works to level up our regional economies, this initiative will give south west England and south Wales a powerful voice, just as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine have done for those areas.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid added:

Today we are announcing an exciting partnership to turbo charge growth across Wales and the south west of England.

The Western Gateway is full of bustling towns and cities and boasts a rich cultural and industrial history – from the famous cheeses of Cheddar Gorge and iconic Roman Baths of Bath, to the thriving TV industry of Cardiff Bay.

We won’t rest until we have unlocked the potential this region has to offer as we level-up opportunities across the UK.

Katherine Bennett CBE, Western Gateway Chair, will say:

With a vibrant population of more than four million people, world-class universities, strong transport links, and shared strengths across key sectors – from green energy and engineering, to the arts and digital media – I’m convinced that the west of Britain is a powerhouse waiting to happen.

By working together, across government, academia, and industry, with businesses at the core, we are determined to make this vision a reality.

Following Friday’s launch event in Newport, Mr Cairns and Mr Jenrick will visit Bristol enterprise hub the Engine Shed, where they will meet owners and staff of some of the innovative businesses based there.

New report highlights the next UK powerhouse “waiting to happen”

Published 8 Jul 2019

Great Western Cities partnership presents report to Westminster

The potential for a new economic powerhouse for the UK was unveiled today, with a new report setting out recommendations to supercharge the economy in the west of Britain.

The Powerhouse for the West report, commissioned by the Great Western Cities partnership of Bristol City Council, Cardiff Council and Newport City Council, was presented to senior politicians, business and education leaders today at the House of Lords. The event was hosted by Lord Bob Kerslake of the UK2070 Commission.

The report, by Metro Dynamics, provides a strong evidence base for a cross-border partnership, presenting recommendations that would drive improved infrastructure, investment, internationalisation and inclusive growth across a region of seven cities, 4.4m people, with 10 universities, 156,000 businesses and a £107bn economy.

Five key areas of collaboration are highlighted:

  • an industrial strategy linking sector strengths;
  • integrating road and rail improvements to enable faster connectivity;
  • an internationalisation strategy which promotes the region’s industrial strengths;
  • establishing a productivity and innovation observatory which makes better use of our data;
  • piloting and measuring tailored approaches to connecting the most deprived communities with the region’s highest growth sectors.

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.”

The potential powerhouse – which is yet to adopt a formal name – 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. To support this venture the Great Western City partners have already been joined by Bath and North East Somerset Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Swansea Council and Swindon Borough Council.

The report sets out a plan to turbo-charge growth in the region, not economic rebalancing, and puts a focus on developing key strengths to stimulate that growth.

With already strong transport links that include two major arteries running across the entirety of the region (the M4 and Great Western Rail Line) intersected by the M5, the proposed powerhouse is uniquely positioned to develop and support trade growth in a way which could be complementary to existing local and regional strategies.

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.”

The area already has unique strengths in advanced engineering, creative and digital media, finance and professional services. The report also highlights how growth areas around clean energy and health and life sciences would benefit it further.

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.”