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‘Please deal us in for new funding’
A BID to unlock £1.9bn of investment for improved transport links, growth and job creation in Oxfordshire is about to be signed, sealed and delivered.
The county council will officially submit its bid for “city deal” status before the deadline tomorrow, its leader has revealed.
The bid, if approved, will give the area’s local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership more power to generate growth.
A key element of the bid, which won’t receive large-scale Government funding but could unlock investment from the private sector, is transport.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth said unblocking pinch points on the A34 remained a top priority.
He said: “The Government started off asking us to be as ambitious as possible, but then said the transport elements should be put to the Regional Growth Fund instead.
“But we feel the transport element is one of the biggest constraints facing businesses in Oxfordshire.”
Mr Hudspeth said the bid had the backing of the county council, five district councils and business community.
He said: “The bid is based around growing Oxfordshire’s skills and knowledge economy and it’s looking good.”
Mr Hudspeth admitted last month the county council had been forced to go back to the drawing board after the Government said its bid was too ambitious.
City deals are the latest in a series of attempts to kickstart economic growth in cities – and come in the wake of decades of criticism that too much of Britain’s economy is focused on London.
Initially the deals were offered to eight cities – Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.
A second wave of deals opened up earlier this year to 20 other areas, including Oxford.
The county council is hoping to use £800m of public sector investment, £1bn of private sector funding and £115m from the Government to boost infrastructure, including new transport links, create 33,250 jobs and build a total of 7,500 homes.
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