Plymouth to bid for new funding
PLYMOUTH could get a cash boost and "radical new powers" as part of a Government package aimed at creating growth and jobs.
Council chiefs are drawing up an "innovative" bid to claim decision-making powers from Whitehall, it has been revealed.
The city is one of 20 urban areas which could be in line to sign a 'City Deal'.
The news comes as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged to pass "radical new powers" to local areas, devolving decision-making away from Westminster.
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The details of Plymouth's bid are being kept under wraps – but its leaders have promised to tackle the city's "major problems" if successful.
Ministers have already signed agreements with eight major cities worth millions of pounds. In the first wave of funding, Birmingham got £25million for a new medical centre while Liverpool was promised a whopping £75million to boost its economy.
Cities Minister Greg Clark will today announce plans to expand the scheme to up to 20 further cities across the country, including Plymouth.
Local authorities will be invited to draw up proposals stating what they want from the Government – and what they can offer in return – by January 15.
Council leader Tudor Evans said it was unlikely Plymouth would get a "big bag of cash".
But, despite remaining tight-lipped about the details, he promised a City Deal would be "transformational".
Cllr Evans said: "We have been working on ideas for a while now and are ready to work with our neighbours and partners to deliver growth in the sub-region."
Bid leaders declined to reveal which areas or sectors would be in line for the boost. However, The Herald understands one possibility could involve schemes such as the much-delayed Sherford New Town.
Cllr Evans would only say: "It's about having the freedom and flexibility to work creatively in partnership with other councils to deliver.
"We are looking at something transformational that will change the way councils do business together to try and create jobs and boost the economy in the travel-to-work area. We promise it will be exciting and will tackle the major problems in Plymouth."
Many cities have demanded the right to take responsibility for skills and training, ensuring workers have the expertise needed by local employers.
The City Deal bid has won cross-party support from city MPs.
"It's very important we act to re-balance Plymouth's economy," said Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Oliver Colvile.
Mr Clark added: "I would be particularly keen to have a City Deal for Plymouth because I know it's had disappointments with the airport.
"It has such fantastic assets in terms of experience in industries that are going to be very important in the future such as marine engineering."
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