A £53 million cash boost is being handed to Worcestershire - in a Government bid to create thousands of jobs and boost the economy.
After four months of waiting your Worcester News can today reveal the outcome of a £280 million bid by Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership, including:
- Worcestershire will get £13 million in April 2015 to kick the 10-year blueprint off
- The Government has indicated that another £40 million will be handed over during the following four years
- An agreement has been struck over which projects can be pursued with the initial amounts of cash, including the part dualling of the A4440 Southern Link Road in Worcester, Worcestershire Parkway at Norton, further improvements to the existing £20 million superfast broadband scheme and extra flooding alleviation, which is expected to focus on New Road
- Other priority projects with the £53 million include Worcester Technology Park and Malvern Hills Science Park
The Government has given LEPs some flexibility over how to spend their money, with both parties saying there will be further negotiations over how each one proceeds.
Council leaders and the LEP yesterday insisted the deal was a good one for Worcestershire, saying they fared well against competition from 38 other bidders nationwide.
Worcestershire LEP did ask for £48 million alone next year, and has admitted projects will need to be "re-programmed" after the award fell short.
It is also unclear where it leaves hopes of dualling the A4440 Carrington Bridge, which the county wants £63m for from Government.
Ministers are making £2 billion available per year to LEPs around the country.
The 10-year blueprint for Worcestershire calls for investment into more than 50 different projects, and the announcement means at least eight are expected to proceed initially.
Peter Pawsey, chairman of Worcestershire's LEP said: "This is a good and fair deal for Worcestershire which we welcome, but it will require our partners to be creative and some choices will have to be made.
"Of course we would always have liked more cash but the allocated fund was massively oversubscribed and together with other funding streams, including those from Europe and from county and district councils' resources, we can together make some very significant progress on our priority schemes."
Councillor Simon Geraghty, county council deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "This is great news and backs the ambitious 10 year plan that was devised by local government and businesses working together through Worcestershire LEP.
"The allocation over the next five years is significant and allows investment in key schemes in rail, road, broadband and flood alleviation.
"Looking to the future there are exciting times ahead and we will now work alongside others in bringing these projects to reality thereby boosting the local economy and tackling key transport bottlenecks."
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin, meanwhile, said: “This is fantastic news and is a great reward for the hard work put in by the Local Enterprise Partnership to secure some important funding to support our county’s long-term economic plan.
“I was pleased to be able to help the team in their bid process and I think that this investment will be a huge boost for local business.
“The Government has given a clear thumbs-up to the business-led approach reflected in the bid and has indicated that more funds will be made available in the coming years.
“I am particularly pleased to see money committed to the growth of Malvern Hills Science Park which will allow it to offer more space for start-ups and growing small business.
“Infrastructure projects like the much-needed Worcester Parkway project and road improvements will also get funding support and I am sure local people will be toasting this success across the county today.”