In this week’s budget, the Chancellor announced that the Welsh Government’s budget for 2019/20 will go up by more than £400 million, taking it above £16 billion, in addition to confirming the allocation of £120 million for the North Wales Growth Deal – a scheme which aims to use government funding to channel nearly £700m worth of public and private money into a series of projects aimed at boosting the North’s economy and creating thousands of jobs.
North Wales Economic Ambition Board said that they were now ready to enter the final stage of discussions to secure the best possible growth deal for the region .A spokesman said:
“Confirmation of UK Government support for the North Wales Growth Bid means we can now enter into the final stage of discussions to secure the best possible Growth Deal for the region.
“Today’s announcement gives us a strong basis on which to move forward and attract extra funding from the Welsh Government and additional sector programmes and finance streams.
“After so many months of planning by our partners we are of course delighted to have achieved this acknowledgement and recognition of the hard work which has taken place, and can now make firm plans to implement the strategy developed by the Board.
“The Growth Bid is just part of the overall Growth Vision for North Wales, but a vital part that will kick-start a new phase of economic prosperity and build on the incredible industry, skills and talent we have on our doorstep, world-leading businesses and organisations that will benefit from today’s decision.
“We are on track to create thousands of jobs and vastly improve infrastructure across all six counties under nine key programmes in a range of areas, from transport and adventure tourism to digital connectivity, smart energy and land and property.
“We will now look to put a dedicated team in place focused on leading the priority projects to fruition, alongside our partners in local government, education and the private sector.
“We are ready for the hard work that lies ahead in negotiating the best possible Growth Deal, to fulfil our aim of delivering a Smart, Resilient and Connected region. We expect the final Deal to be in place later in 2019.”
Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Radford said that he was disappointed that the announcement fell short of what the people of North Wales were expecting. he said:
“The Welsh Government has long championed a growth deal for North Wales and has been actively engaged with the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, alongside the UK government to ensure a deal which is right for the people, communities and businesses of North Wales.
“The UK government’s unilateral announcement today is disappointing as it falls some way short of what we and the people of North Wales have been expecting and working hard towards. We remain fully committed to delivering this potentially transformative growth deal, and will continue to work to get the package and direction right for North Wales, agreeing heads of terms on a deal as soon as possible.”