England's Economic Heartland: Counties working together for prosperity

A report to be heard before Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet next week will hear how the alliance will press Government to help break down barriers to bring increased prosperity to the region.

The counties share much common ground and form the heart of science and technology innovation in the UK with sector markets having a global reach.

The growing devolution agenda nationally has provided the platform for this new approach and England’s Economic Heartland wants Government to provide the area with a five-year Growth Deal, unifying the various funding streams available for strategic projects and economic growth.

This certainty will give confidence for businesses to invest in the area and give England’s Economic Heartland a competitive advantage on the world stage. Already with a £46.6bn economy, England’s Economic Heartland, seeks to swell growth by a further £9bn each year, creating at least 135,000 new jobs by 2020.

Working together will ensure infrastructure projects integrate across county borders rather than working in isolation and money will also be saved by reducing bureaucratic red tape.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “As the name suggests, England’s Economic Heartland is one of the powerhouses of the UK economy. It is our belief that we can further enhance our competitiveness in global markets with this innovative new model, and in the process help contribute to the UK being the most prosperous major economy.

“We want to grow the area’s reputation as a serious destination for new economy industries and their employees, families and supply chains.

“What England’s Economic Heartland does is provide a way which enables economies of scale and efficiencies to be realised. However it also ensures that priorities are driven by locally identified needs and opportunities.

“This is not in any way a merger of the county councils:  while the counties will work together on strategic issues each authority will be a distinct entity and they will retain their roles and responsibilities in local issues.”

England’s Economic Heartland will see the county councils in each of the three counties working together with the respective local enterprise partnerships.

The proposals build on the work which has taken place since December last year when Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire declared their intentions of this unified strategic approach at a launch event at Silverstone.