(First published in the Worcester News 18 July 2014)
After weeks of anticipation, debate, speculation and negotiation we now know what will be coming from Government to Worcestershire as our ‘Growth Deal’.
The result is great news for Worcestershire and will enable the WLEP, with its partners, to deliver on most of our top priority projects, with some reprogramming and rescaling if necessary.
The headline agreed sum for 2015/6 is £13 million with nearly £40 million earmarked so far for the following few years. I say ‘so far’ because the Minister, Greg Clark, has advised me that there is still some headroom in the allocations for those years for which we can still bid.
If we look at the overall picture on known investment coming into Worcestershire over the next five years, we can already identify over £150 million in total. Not only are we looking at £47 million so far through the Growth Deal, but also £13.5 million previously committed to capital developments by the County Council and others, about £55 million from Europe, £11 million for the M5 Junction 4 reconstruction, just starting, over £25 million for Broadband, £6 million for Pershore College, plus some lesser sums from a variety of funds. That is a great step towards our overall ask of £280 million over 10 years and it’s great news for Worcestershire.
There are exciting times ahead as we begin to see some of the key projects finally coming to fruition and further lifting the economic output and wellbeing of our county.
Over the next few days and weeks we will be sitting down with business and local authority leaders to agree a programme with priorities for where the various funding streams will be targeted. I will, of course, let you know the outcome of these discussions.