Wales

'Critical' business role in £1.2bn Cardiff city region deal

Valleys
Image caption House building in the valleys communities is given emphasis in the city deal

Businesses have been told they have a "critical" role to play in developing the £1.2bn Cardiff Capital Region over the next 20 years.

Three months after the deal was signed by 10 south Wales councils, business leaders are attending a conference to give their views.

The aim is to bring 25,000 new jobs and £4bn in private sector investment.

It also includes £734m for the south Wales Metro, bringing better rail and bus travel in the capital and valleys.

The Making City Regions Work for Business event is also looking to raise the profile of the proposals with companies.

Cardiff Capital Region city deal

£1.2bn

over 20 years

  • £734m South Wales Metro

  • £495m Other projects including Innovation District and software academy

  • £50m Extra UK Government cash for Catapult compound semi-conductor project

WHAT THE CITY DEAL INVOLVES

  • The South Wales Metro - to include the £500m Valleys electrification programme - longer trains, faster buses and some light rail
  • £495m for other projects including an "innovation district" and investing in a software academy, data innovation, a cyber security academy and new approaches to public service delivery
  • Better wi-fi on public transport
  • Increasing house building
  • Not included in the £1.2bn pot is confirmation of an extra £50m from the UK Government to help develop the compound semiconductor centre - the technology behind smartphones - being set up by Cardiff University and IQE

HOW THE DEAL STACKS UP

  • Welsh Government £580m within the first seven years
  • 10 councils £120m
  • The Treasury £580m

Q&A: What does the Cardiff Capital Region city deal mean?

Analysis by Sarah Dickins, BBC Wales economics correspondent

The group behind the city deal has been criticised in the past for not sufficiently involving business. It is a claim that has been strongly denied.

This sees the first formal engagement of the business community of south east Wales. They will want to hear how the city deal plans are going to help businesses and the economy grow.

One of the economic reasons behind the Metro is to make it easier for people to work beyond their communities and it gives businesses access to a larger pool of labour.

The hope is that along with funds for innovation and collaboration with higher education, economic growth will increase and the area will end up with more better paid jobs.

The 10 local authorities involved in the city deal want to make sure that their communities feel the benefit. Because of that, the plans include an emphasis on house building with the belief that more and better housing in valleys communities will encourage people to commute both ways.

The conference includes a range of speakers from other city regions across the world to highlight international best practice.

Lessons from Greater Manchester

Image caption Good transport links were important in Greater Manchester's city region focus, said one speaker

The event at Cardiff City stadium has been organised by Cardiff University, the region's 10 councils and a transition board set up by the Welsh Government.

One of the speakers was Mike Blackburn, the chairman of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

He said devolution of power so that Greater Manchester could work as a city region started more than 13 years ago.

Image caption Mike Blackburn speaking at the conference in Cardiff

Mr Blackburn said all local authorities in the area recognised many years ago that it was in all of their interests to work together.

He added that it has also been helped by having the same leadership for 20 years.

To see exactly the strengths and weaknesses of the area, in which 2m people live, the Greater Manchester city region asked six global academics to carry out independent research spelling out exactly what the economy issues were - such as lack of skills.

The area is now reviewing its post-16 education system and has taken control of its £6bn health and social care budgets and is trying to develop a health system focused on prevention.

'Vital role'

The idea of the day-long conference is for businesses in south East Wales to hear what could change with the Cardiff Capital Region so that they can feed their views into decision-making.

Mr Blackburn said good transport had played a vital role but that has been wide-ranging including air transport, freight and cycle paths not just focussed on cars, buses and trains.

Ann Beynon, chairwoman of the Cardiff Capital Region transition board, said the business community had expressed confusion in the past about what the city deal and city region were offering but the agendas were now "better aligned".

"Business can cross examine us to their hearts' content and I welcome that.

"But business will also have to step up to the mark and agree its contribution towards improving economic outcomes for the people of south east Wales - our capital region."

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