Plymouth on fast-track to secure new powers from Whitehall
PLYMOUTH is on the fast-track to becoming a regional economic power-house thanks to a Government deal that promises an injection of jobs.
The city will claw significant powers from Whitehall after being given the green light in the second wave of City Deals.
Eight cities got multi-million-pound handouts last year in the first round of agreements, aimed at stimulating the economy.
The 20 to gain in the second round – including Plymouth – were revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, as he hailed the move a "quiet revolution".
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And Plymouth will be one of the deals that will be fast-tracked for early agreement with Whitehall following its submission last month.
Details of the deal are still to be hammered out.
But in return for its plan for economic growth, Plymouth could get financial and planning powers from Whitehall, such as control over training and skills budgets, or being able to create local investment funds to build roads and unlock developments.
The city council joined forces with local authorities and business organisations from across the South West to bid to become a City Deal area.
Plymouth's plan aims to unlock commercial opportunities in marine sciences, renewable energy and other technologies, as well as boosting exports.
That includes supporting start-up marine science businesses, earmarking surplus Ministry of Defence land – such as Devonport's South Yard – for use by marine industries, and working with UK Trade and Investment to link firms to export markets.
"This city deal is about capitalising on what we are good at and unleashing the enormous potential of the marine science sector," said Plymouth Council leader Councillor Tudor Evans.
The Plymouth deal also aims to extend the benefits to the wider region, as North Devon, Torbay and Falmouth.
Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View Alison Seabeck said: "It benefits not just our city but the councils all around us. It should mean more jobs. It could mean more houses."
Tory MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter added: "It will give a real economic boost to our economic plans and especially our focus on marine technology."
Plymouth now has nine months to develop its plans and reach an agreement.
Announcing the news yesterday, Mr Clegg said: "A City Deal for Plymouth is nothing short of a quiet revolution for the area.
"Negotiations will get the best out of Government for Plymouth and the wider area and we are ready to commit to local growth plans that will benefit everyone."
See tomorrow's Herald for full business community reaction.
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