City asks ministers for new economic powers
RADICAL new powers to boost the economy could turn Plymouth into a centre for growth in the South West.
The city will learn in the next few weeks whether it is to get the go-ahead from the Government to create a "City Deal", council leader Tudor Evans told a meeting of the full city council.
He said Government ministers were studying a bid by the council, working with neighbouring authorities and Plymouth University.
Twenty cities and their wider areas have been given the opportunity to bid for radical new powers to boost local growth in the second wave of City Deals.
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The Government will devolve powers in exchange for responsibility for delivering growth locally. Cities from the first wave of deals were given groundbreaking powers including the ability to "earn back" tax from the Treasury, devolved transport budgets and control of the skills budget for their city.
Cllr Evans told a meeting of the full city council on Monday that Plymouth had submitted an expression of interest to create a City Deal.
"This is an initiative aimed at boosting economic growth, helping rebalance the economy away from dependence on the public sector," he said.
"Our submission has been developed by working very closely with our neighbouring partners, the university and Local Economic Partnerships."
Cllr Evans said the bid aimed to address the low economic productivity which was preventing Plymouth from fulfilling its potential to be the major centre for growth in the South West.
The region's maritime assets and capabilities would be developed by creating an industry cluster of advanced engineering and design and creating jobs through the commercial application of marine sciences, marine renewable energy and maritime technologies. The City Deal would support the development and commercialisation of fledgling marine science businesses and bring together the knowledge, research and development facilities of the university and private sector.
Cllr Evans said that freeing up surplus MoD land such as South Yard in Devonport to create a marine technology production campus would enable marine-related firms to link ideas, research, development and testing and enable large scale industrial production.
Part of the city's expression of interest was to develop an international investment and export pilot with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to prepare and connect businesses with export markets."Our expression of interest is now being scrutinised. Successful cities will hear in early February whether or not we'll be invited to negotiate a full city deal by the end of 2013."