Westminster Pressed For Approval Of New Deal On Swansea Region

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 22, 2016 09:33 AM EST

A City Deal for the region of Swansea and south west Wales is underway, with the people involved noting that good progress is continuing to be made on the bid that could make it happen.

MPs and regional AMs have planned meetings over the coming weeks as leaders of Swansea Bay City Region continue to press Westminster for a positive outcome early next year.

The chairman of Swansea Bay City Region Board, telecom billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, has previously stated that they are convinced that the timing is right for their business plans. He also expressed his confidence that the outcome will be a substantial economic upside for the region.

"This month, we have been continuing with our intensive efforts to finalize the details so that the UK Government can approve the City Region's City Deal bid," said Swansea Councilor Rob Stewart, the leader of the Swansea Council.

"There are also meetings planned with MPs and regional AMs over coming weeks, which follow private sector-led sessions in London where the Secretary of State for Wales was enormously impressed with everything we're proposing and the level of commitment to the deal from our business leaders," he added.

The "Internet Coast" City Deal bid is now with the UK government for approval. It is based on major investment in the region's digital infrastructure which has been considered to revolutionize the ways energy, health and social care sectors are delivered.

The councilor said that the people right across the Swansea Bay City Region will benefit once the City Deal bid is approved.

"We estimate an approval will lead to about 9,500 direct jobs but potentially about 35,000 in total could be created when spin-offs, relocations, construction jobs and business opportunities for local suppliers are taken into account," he said.

He explained that their focus will be on aggressive spending in the first five years in order to ensure the delivery of a range of projects that will open up jobs, as well as encourage major employers to move in the region to create world class digital infrastructure. He said that such infrastructure is what tech businesses need to flourish and expand.

"With a final decision also due on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, 2017 could be a landmark year in Swansea's history as we look to turbocharge the regional economy, tackle poverty and place Swansea at the forefront of global innovation and enterprise," he added.

Among the projects that would get the lift-off in Swansea if the bid is approved is the digital district in the Kingsway and a digital square at the St. David's development site. The City Deal bid would also deliver major projects in Llanelli, Carmarthen, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.

Moreover, investments would be made in cutting edge technology, medical innovation and research, wave energy and creative industries.

"The leaders of the four councils and the private sector are working strongly together in partnership to persuade the Welsh and Westminster governments to release the much-needed funding to allow the region to transform its economic future," said Mark James, chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council and lead chief executive on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region.

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