AN ambitious plan to drive economic growth and create 31,000 jobs in Staffordshire has moved a step closer to becoming reality.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has confirmed the county will be included in the shortlist of regions to be considered for the Government’s ‘city deal’ scheme.
Areas that form part of the ‘city deal’ will receive increased Government funding for local economies as well as more regulatory freedom.
Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, which helped to submit the bid to Government, said: “Creating the right conditions for more private sector jobs and economic growth is our absolute top priority so we are delighted to make it through to the next phase of negotiations.
“The ‘city deal’ offers an excellent opportunity to build on and accelerate work already under way across the county to attract new businesses to the area, help our existing firms grow and thrive, and improve prospects for our residents.”
The county council, together with the county’s local enterprise partnership, estimates that ‘city deal’ status would create 31,000 jobs, largely in manufacturing and other creative industries.
Councillor Atkins said: “With greater powers and funding from the deal to invest in regenerating sites, to improve roads and other infrastructure, and to ramp up skills and training provision, we can make Staffordshire an international powerhouse in advanced materials production even faster.
“However, there is still a long way to go to and we will only sign on the dotted line if it is in the best interests of the entire county and a deal that is right for local people.”
Ron Dougan, chairman of the Staffordshire local enterprise partnership, who also serves as chief executive of Burton-based Trent and Dove Housing, said: “It is hugely positive that the Government has recognised the substance behind our exciting, ambitious and achievable proposals.
“Staffordshire’s public and private sector have worked as one to bring this bid together, united by their desire for economic growth across the city and county, so that we generate jobs and greater prosperity for business and local people.
“The hard work continues but it is clear to see that we are on the right path.”