Monday, 29 October 2012

Greater Cambridge City Deal Welcomed By Council Chiefs

Council chiefs say a possible new City Deal with Government could bring massive benefits to the local economy and help keep more of the money generated from future growth within the local area.

Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership have been invited by Government to enter into negotiations around a City Deal for the Greater Cambridge area.

This means negotiations will start shortly with Government on how this could benefit Cambridge and the surrounding area.

A City Deal could see more funding and powers coming straight to the Cambridge city-region, putting more decisions into the hands of the local area, rather than Government.

It could see the three Councils working even more closely together on issues such as managing the major growth sites such as those on the fringes of Cambridge and the new town of Northstowe, and a more integrated approach to transport, strategic planning and skills.

Government will be asked to consider allowing more funds that result from growth, such as taxes and business rates, to stay in Cambridgeshire and be reinvested to support infrastructure and enhance quality of life locally, rather than going to the Treasury as now.

If a deal can be struck then Cambridge and the surrounding area could benefit from being able to make quicker and more joined up decisions aimed at boosting the local economy.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke said: "We are pleased that Government has recognised the ambitious plans for growth in the Greater Cambridge area through inviting us to take part in the second wave of City Deal negotiations. This is an exciting opportunity for local councils to take advantage of the devolution of powers and funding streams from Government for the direct benefit of our communities across Cambridgeshire.

"We hope that through the City Deal more control will be put in the hands of local councils so that we can tackle issues such as housing, transport and other infrastructure that currently are a barrier to economic growth and prosperity. This will help secure more jobs, better quality of life for our residents and show we are open for business. We look forward to continuing the good work we are already carrying out with local councils and businesses as well as Government."

Councillor Tim Bick, Leader of Cambridge City Council said: "Cambridge and the South Cambridgeshire rural area surrounding it are the seat of world beating university education and research and the home of a unique cluster of leading edge technology businesses. It's already a proven economic success story.

"Our challenge is to create the conditions for the local economy to continue to grow and thrive, by addressing our housing shortage and transport problems while respecting the unique character of the area, which is very much part of the winning formula.

"The three local authorities with responsibility for the area already work together, but the possibility of additional powers from central government to help us is a real spur to try and take this to a new level and present a joint strategic lead across the boundaries that separate us."

Cllr Ray Manning, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Leader added: "Our plans for growth puts the area at the heart of driving the national economy forward, and we are pleased to see the Government has recognised our success as this deal could help us deliver real benefits for our residents and businesses. Putting more funding and power in the hands of local authorities mean we can work even closer together to make sure all aspects of housing and transport are considered together, while we also strive to create an environment that promotes the creation of more new jobs. We are very much looking forward to continuing our discussions with the other councils involved, and the Government, about the deal over to see how the best results can be achieved."

Mark Reeve, Acting Chair of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, added: "The opportunity to bid for a City Deal for the Greater Cambridge area is an exciting prospect, and one we have been supportive of from the start. We look forward to working with our partners to submit a strong bid to help bring more local control back to the development of our economy."