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Business chiefs eye £2bn growth money
BUSINESS leaders will this month submit a bid to win millions of pounds for the county’s economy.
Officials at Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership are drawing up a plan with the aim of securing a chunk of a £2bn Government fund, to spend on the county’s roads, houses and businesses.
The plan will set out how they want to keep Oxfordshire’s economy growing.
If ministers look with favour on Oxfordshire’s plan, it will mean the county will get access to huge sums of money.
Robert Hetherington, Oxford City Council’s economic development manager, said they were battling it out with other bids across the country to earn a slice of the national Single Local Growth Fund.
He said: “A poor economic plan ,or one which does not fully support the city’s growth potential, could result in a fall in resources available to support growth in the city and a weakening of our credibility with Government.
“A poor plan will receive a small allocation from the Single Local Growth Fund.”
The county’s local enterprise partnership is preparing to submit the strategic economic plan by the end of March.
If the Government approves it, the partnership will be invited to negotiate a deal.
The Government has said this would mean Oxfordshire would be given more influence on how national programmes are carried out in the area.
Bob Price, the leader of the city council, pictured, said the money would primarily be put towards transport schemes, but could also be used to build homes and develop business units.
He said: “The whole thing is about making certain that the county’s economy is going in the direction of growth.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine, as well as Lib Dem peer Lord Shipley, have been appointed to advise ministers on the proposals which England’s 39 LEPs bring forward.
Lord Heseltine said: “Local people know what will unleash growth in their areas and I look forward to supporting them in articulating this.”
Oxfordshire’s strategic economic plan builds on the City Deal which was signed last month, providing the county with investment of £55m.
Once submitted by March 31, the Government will assess the plan, with a final assessment expected in June.
Talks on local growth deals will begin in June and end by April 2015.
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