St David’s Day 2017 should be remembered for one of the most historic deals in the history of Wales.
It will be the day the leaders of the ten local authorities in South-East Wales formally ratified the Cardiff Capital Region (CR) City Deal.
The City Deal is a £1.2 billion investment programme, which we are hoping will make a step-change in the economic and social well-being of the region, increasing productivity, creating 25,000 jobs, supporting innovation, improving transport and digital connectivity across the whole city-region, and improving workplace skills. There should be opportunities for all.
The deal comprises funding of £580 million from the Welsh Government aimed at delivering major strategic transport connectivity projects. Obviously, the key transport project is the South Wales Metro, and work will start on this later this year.
The UK Government has provided a further £540m, and the ten local authorities have agreed a commitment to borrow a combined total of £120 million as part of the Wider Investment Fund.
Following unanimous agreement from all ten local authorities over recent weeks the City Deal work can now begin in earnest, with a Regional Cabinet driving the strategic vision for the city-region, led by the recommendations of the independent Growth and Competitiveness Commission, which delivered its findings in December.
Following today’s signing the City Deal will enter a transition phase and the Cardiff Capital Region Transition Plan will be created.
This plan will detail the key activity to be undertaken, including the establishment of a Regional Office to drive the delivery of the Regional Cabinet’s work programme in anticipation of receiving proposals for investment.
A fundamental objective of the City Deal is for it to lever an additional £4bn in private sector investment.
All proposals will be tested through a bespoke impact assessment model to ensure that there are no ‘pet projects,’ but to also ensure there is a positive social impact from each project as well. The City Deal must ultimately assist everyone, no matter where they live in the city-region.
The transition phase will also see the creation and development of one delivery body – a Regional Transport Authority, and three advisory bodies – the CCR Economic Growth Partnership, a region-wide Business Representation Organisation, and an Employment and Skills Board. All four will report to the Regional Cabinet.
We believe this is the structure that will successfully deliver the City Deal.
It is a new way of working, and I am been delighted at the way in which leaders, members, and officers from all of the local authorities have worked so well together over the past 18 months to reach this position. We have made huge progress in a very short space of time.
We have robust governance and an assurance framework in place, and we look forward to now driving forward and supporting City Deal initiatives.
Yes, we are conscious that people are watching us, and are expecting us to deliver a successful City Deal.
We have worked long and hard at putting the correct governance in place, while no one want to see positive results from this City Deal more than the Leaders who have got it to where it is today.
In 20 years’ time we will look back and agree that the City Deal brought about a step-change in our economy and in creating opportunities for all.
Implementing the City Deal is not just about the numbers…it is a narrative, it is a story, it is about creating a new culture and belief in the region and what it can achieve.
And we also recognise that what works for the Cardiff Capital Region will work for the rest of Wales as well. We will work closely with the Swansea Bay City Deal, we will work closely with Welsh Government, and we will work extremely closely with stakeholders within the region.
Business and higher and further education will play a significant part in making the City Deal a success, in being part of this journey, and in helping to deliver the vision for this city-region.
I believe it is extremely important that everyone gets behind the City Deal. There are no agendas, no pre-determined decisions.
We simply look forward to delivering a City Deal programme that will make the whole of Wales, and particularly the city-region, extremely proud of what we have achieved.
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