Dear Boris Johnson, we need positive action not warm words

The “Great South West” not happy with the: “Magic Sauce” the “Catchup Ketchup”?

Owl always thought that the business-led Local Enterprise Partnership (see footnote in article), Heart of the South West (HotSW) had the plan to double the economy in 20 years from the 2018 baseline – what’s not working? 

Do we have any regional leaders with real economic, as opposed to business, experience and with the democratic support to make such a plea credible? 

Would Boris Johnson listen and what store should we put on any “promises” he might make? – Owl

Dear Boris Johnson, we need positive action not warm words

Hannah Finch www.devonlive.com 

The Prime Minister has been asked to make good on years of promises to Back the Great South West.

Economic leaders say they are beyond frustration after five years of ‘warm words’ but no action on the region’s plans to become a beacon for the green economy.

In an open letter to the PM, Bill Martin, publisher of the Western Morning News, who has spearheaded the #BackTheGreatSouthWest campaign, said that the region requires positive action after fulfilling its side of the bargain to come up with a clear business case that has brought together politicians, business leaders and academics.

But he warns that the ‘unity will not hold’ without some progress.

Mr Martin writes in the letter: “The Great South West is a large and powerful economic entity that with the right support can become the cutting edge of your levelling up and net zero agenda.

“We have done all that was asked. I am writing today to ask for your support again in giving the Great South West the recognition and support that its unity and ambition require. We are a region that welcomes warm words, but desires positive action.”

The letter comes five years after the #BackTheGreatSouthWest campaign was launched with the region’s biggest private sector employer Pennon Plc.

Since then, the Great South West Partnership has set out how it has the potential to become the ‘UK’s Natural Powerhouse’ in its Securing the Future prospectus that was taken to 10 Downing Street in 2019.

The deal asked the Government for £2million over three years to progress its ambitions but nothing has yet come of it.

Steve Hindley, chairman of the Great South West Partnership, said: “For the first time, the Great South West has set out a challenging low-carbon vision for our region building on our strengths and key opportunities and we have an active All Party Parliamentary Group set up to support the Great South West. We have consistently had warm words from No 10 and other ministers and we want to get on and achieve the same status as the other ‘Powerhouse’ regions and move forward with our blue and green agenda. As Chair of the Great South West steering group, I am beyond frustration with the delay in obtaining formal recognition and associated funding.”

The delegation from the South West visited Downing Street in 2019 to deliver the prospectus and set out how it planned to deliver an era of transformational change with the backing of the Government’s levelling up pledge.

Mr Martin said he acknowledges that much has been set aside because of the global pandemic but he argues that negotiations on the the ambitions of the Great South West have been minimal and had got confused in Whitehall with those of the Western Gateway, a strategic partnership aimed at promoting and maximising economic growth from Bristol to Swansea.

The Great South West plans to become the UK’s first region to reach net zero and the only exporter of green energy and UK’s greenest economy by building on its wealth of natural and research assets at sea and on land, praised by the PM in the lead up to June’s G7 Summit in Cornwall.

It seeks support for an enhanced import and export hub, recognition of a South West Tourism Zone and agreement to create a rural productivity deal.

Sir Gary Streeter MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Great South West said he shared Mr Martin’s frustration.

He said: “I see no reason why the government cannot move smartly to recognise our region and enable us to deliver on substantial growth and prosperity. I will keep pressing the government on this.”

Mark Duddridge, Chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said the Great South West’s ambition to spearhead the green industrial revolution is all the more relevant as the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate change summit.

He said: “We are making significant advances in Cornwall with new technologies like floating offshore wind, geothermal energy and clean metal mining, with world class deposits of lithium which is vital for electric vehicle battery production. And we are working towards our traditional industries like tourism and agriculture being more sustainable. But if we are going to stimulate investment to transform our communities, we need much more visibility on how the Government plans to deliver its levelling up agenda. The Prime Minister talks of a consistent and catalytic role for Government in driving a wealth-creating economy, and that’s what we are asking for today.”

David Ralph, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers Somerset and Devon, said: “Declared support from Government for this work would enable it to progress further and faster and help deliver a joined-up response to the challenge of climate change.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.