Answer expected imminently over £280m county blueprint

Malvern Gazette: HOPEFUL: Peter Pawsey, from Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership HOPEFUL: Peter Pawsey, from Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership

AN ANNOUNCEMENT on Worcestershire's bid to win £280 million of Government investment is expected within days, it has emerged.

The county's blueprint to create 25,000 new jobs by 2025 and pour £3 billion of new activity into the economy is currently being examined by ministers.

Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) - which led the work on creating the dossier - now says within the next few days it expects to hear a response on some initial allocations of money to spend in 2015/16.

The Government is making £2 billion a year available to LEPS around the country that make bids for cash.

The Worcestershire bid includes £63 million on dualling the A4440 Carrington Bridge, £7 million for a new Worcestershire parkway railway station at Norton, £4 million to revamp Pershore college, funding for 1,000 more apprenticeships, £14 million towards further education and rafts of other huge projects.

Furious efforts are still taking place behind the scenes to lobby the decision makers, with county leaders saying they expect news imminently.

Peter Pawsey, executive chair of the LEP, said: "Together with our business and local authority partners we have created a 10-year plan and this is only year one.

"We will find imaginative ways to keep that plan on track and to bring the jobs, the training and skills, and the economic benefits to our county."

The county is competing with 38 other LEPs for a slice of the cash, and the expectation is that all of them will get something, with the amounts set to vary wildly.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the deputy leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: "We are expecting news on this reasonably soon in what for us is a 10-year plan.

"Regardless of the first announcement, this is a long term strategy for us and we will be working to deliver as many aspects of it as we can."

The plan also includes a new pedestrian river crossing in Worcester, running from Gheluvelt Park to Kepax Country Park, and improvements to the Cotswold Line so train journeys from Worcester to London take less than two hours by 2016.

Another £4 million towards better flood protection, broadband coverage and water supplies is also on the wish-list.

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