“Now the really exciting stuff comes in to play,” a councillor said as the Mid Wales Growth Deal reaches a new phase.
At Powys County Council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday, October 5, councillors gave their blessing to the Mid Wales Growth Deal portfolio business case, which is the key to unlocking a deal that could transform the region’s economy.
The document which provides a framework for the growth deal will now go to both Welsh and UK Government’s to be reviewed.
If that goes well, the final deal agreement for the £110 million funding injection could be signed off by Christmas.
The portfolio business case had been agreed by the Growing Mid Wales Board last month, but both the Powys and Ceredigion County Council “sovereign” cabinets also needed to give it the thumbs up.
Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies said: “We’ve established a strong base camp and now the really exciting stuff comes in to play, when we’re looking at opportunities that present themselves.
“I see it as a catalyst for growing the economy in Mid-Wales, there’s exciting times ahead.”
The documentation includes a number of possible projects in both Powys and Ceredigion that could be invested in.
But it was stressed at the meeting that it was still possible for other ideas to be proposed and make their way into the deal.
Director of environment and economy, Nigel Brinn said: “Agreeing the portfolio business case today does not guarantee funding for these initial set of programmes/projects.
“It signifies that these options are to be developed further at the cost and risk of the proposers – and that the GMW Board will review the detail of the proposals as part of their business case development.
“Other projects can be added to the portfolio at a later date.”
Mr Brinn explained that projects would come under the broad themes of: applied research and innovation, agriculture, food and drink, strengthening tourism, digital, and supporting enterprise.
Cllr Harris said: “Whilst we’re asking for projects to come forward we need to make sure that everybody knows what those areas of growth could possibly be.”
During the last year there have been calls for councillors outside the cabinets of both authorities to be involved with the deal.
Back in June the Growing Mid Wales Board agreed that a joint scrutiny committee board would be organised and made up of councillors from both Powys and Ceredigion.
PCC’s head of legal and democratic services, Clive Pinney explained: ” Scrutiny arrangements will now be in place this month,as the project develops we’ll have more and more meetings.”
The Welsh and UK Government believe the growth deal has an “important part” to play in the recovery phase of the economy, after Covid-19.
In October 2019 the UK Government announced a £55 million injection of funding, that was to be spread over 15 years.
In March this timescale was shortened to 10 years.
The Welsh Government will match the £55million.
It is thought that the deal could see investment of between £280 million and £400million over the next 10-15 years, which could create 1,100 jobs.