Great South West steams back in action, any substance in its latest report?

In September 2017 Owl reported: We’ve had the Heart of the South West LEP! We’ve had the “Golden Triangle” LEP (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay).We”ve even had the “Golden Quadrangle” LEP (Owl’s suggestion for adding in Cornwall or Dorset).NOW we have the “Golden Pentangle” (adding in Cornwall AND Dorset), yet ANOTHER unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent quango: The Great South West, the LEP for LEPs

In February 2020, with incredibly bad timing, The Great South West sent its latest report to Savid Javid just as he was replaced by Rishi Sunak “The Great South West pitches to the wrong man. A week is a long time in politics”  . Then the pandemic broke.

In July 2020 The Great South West appeared to be defunct, but it has re-awakened in time for the G7 (is anyone in Government listening?):

Report says South West needs ‘levelling up’ as much as ‘red wall’ north

William Telford 

The South West needs “levelling up” as much as the so-called “red wall” areas of the north, a new report tells the Government.

Pennon, the South West’s biggest employer and parent company of South West Water, has written a document on behalf of the Great South West economic task force calling for the region not to be overlooked in the Government’s plans. The report demands a “green jobs boom” to stop the brain drain of talented young people leaving the region.

The call is timed to coincide with the G7 summit being held in Cornwall from June 11, which looks at the economic challenges and opportunities facing the region.

The report, Levelling Up the Great South West: A G7 Legacy, analyses every parliamentary constituency in Devon and Cornwall and says they deserve as much political attention as those in the electoral battleground of the so-called “red wall” in the North of England and Midlands.

The new ‘levelling up analysis’ in Pennon’s Great South West report finds that:

Devon and Cornwall trail the rest of the UK in terms of productivity – Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has the lowest productivity of any UK subregion, and Devon is the seventh lowest productivity area in the UK.

On a ranking of all parliamentary constituencies in England and Wales by productivity, 13 out of 18 Devon and Cornwall constituencies are in the lowest third, with St Ives, Torridge and West Devon, South East Cornwall, North Cornwall and Torbay in the bottom 25 in the whole of England and Wales.

The working age population of the region is declining as a share of the total, with an exodus of young people to larger urban areas, especially London. 70% of 15-17 year olds in Cornwall say they will need to leave the county in order to obtain a good job.

Many parts of the region have high levels of empty shops, a key indicator of the health of the high street, reflecting low spending levels and lack of investment. In Camborne and Redruth the rate of empty shops is 38% higher than the England and Wales average, in Torbay it is 30% higher, and in Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport it is 43% higher.

The new figures point to some of the biggest economic challenges facing England’s two most south-westerly counties. Yet the report says that with the right investment and support the Great South West has huge potential too.

The combination of the natural environment and environmental science specialisms in the region means Devon, Cornwall and the wider South West could set its sights on becoming Britain’s greenest regional economy, turning global concerns over sustainability into locally-led economic growth.

It recommends that every British region, including the South West, has an economic growth plan delivered by regional leaders with regional accountability; a Transport for the South West body which can champion regional transport infrastructure projects; the delivery of ultra-fast broadband across the region; more investment in research and development in the South West’s advanced manufacturing and environmental science clusters; and more STEM pathways for students in further and higher education in the region.

What is the Great South West initiative?

The Great South West initiative is the coming together of a wide range of organisations across the South West, including three Local Enterprise Partnerships, seven county and unitary authorities, six universities and major businesses.

The Great South West partners published growth prospectus in January 2020 that aims to deliver £45billion of economic benefit and 190,000 new jobs during the next 15 years.