The Western Way

The Memorandum of Understanding between the local authorities of Bristol City Council,Cardiff Council and Swindon Borough Council is the heart of the Western Way, signed by the respective council leaders – Barbara Janke of Bristol, Rodney Berman of Cardiff and Rod Bluh of Swindon – yesterday at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.

The three  are all major urban areas on the Great Western Mainline and M4 corridor, the main east-west transport corridor of the UK and the three areas have a shared interest in promoting the Great Western Mainline and M4 corridor as an internationally competitive location for business, and that this is supported by the UK Government and Welsh Assembly Government. The corridor’s location and accessibility to London makes it a competitive and sustainable location. As well as some of the best Higher Education institutions in the world, it also boasts internationally significant clusters in sectors such as ICT,aerospace and the creative industries.

The three authorities recently collaborated through the Great Western Partnership to lobby for investment in electrification of the Great Western Mainline as a precursor to the development of a ‘state of the art’ High Speed Rail (HSR) route from London serving South West England and South Wales as part of a future UK HSR development programme.

The success of the Great Western Partnership in providing a co-ordinated response to the issue of High Speed Rail highlighted the potential for further collaboration on economic development, particularly with science, technology and innovation. In addition to a commitment to improving connectivity of the Great Western corridor, there are also opportunities to collaborate to promote the combined economic strengths of the area, develop complimentary clusters of economic and academic activities, to promote the Great Western corridor as a tourism destination,as well as provide a coordinated response to issues relating to climate change.

The memorandum aims to provide a platform for further collaboration for the next 3 three years, renewable annually thereafter by agreement of the partners and outlines a shared agenda to promote the combined economic, environmental, academic andtechnological strengths, the complementarity of research, education and scientific institutions, and highlight the national and global contribution the areas make to the knowledge economy.·

The plan is to:

  • Bring together civic and business leaders from Bristol, Cardiff and Swindon to act as one voice to promote the combined economic strengths of the Western Way area.
  • Collectively build positive relationships with influential thinkers and policy-makers in Westminster, Whitehall and the Welsh Assembly Government to highlight the role of the Western Way in delivering jobs and increasing competitiveness for UK plc.
  • Work with universities and business partners to build a robust and compelling evidence base that demonstrates the economic significance
  • Continue to work with new and existing partnership arrangements in our areas, such as Local Enterprise Partnerships
  • Develop a strong and consistently applied identity for the partnership.
  • Work effectively together to ensure early investment in high-speed digital infrastructure to support business and economic growth, including working with Government and industry to promote working together to stimulate take-up and aggregate demand.
  • To promote the research, education and scientific institutions, and highlight the national and global contribution our areas make to the knowledge economy.
  • Conduct further analysis of the knowledge-based sectors of the economy that are present in our areas, such as creative industries, green technology, microelectronics, silicon design, financial and business services, and advanced manufacturing – with the aim of supporting these sectors.
  • Explore innovative ways to exploit ICT and digital infrastructure to enable progresstowards a low-carbon society.