In a confident report on the progress into its Devolution Deal with government, the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority provides strong evidence to the November Board that it is delivering on its twenty five year mission to double to region’s economy and is working for economic recovery following the Covid pandemic.
The report, requested by the Combined Authority leaders back in October, provides an assessment on the 2017 Devolution Deal with the government. It shows significant progress on its ambitious long-term plans to deliver growth and public sector reform under a new style of local democracy via one of England’s nine Mayoral Combined Authorities.
Back in 2017 local partners signed up for 71 projects as part of the Devolution Deal, to deliver a growth target over a twenty five year period. Three and a half years in, it is reporting to its Board on its progress to date.
The report highlights that 72% (51) of projects have been implemented fully or in part already with 5 varied, either by agreement among the parties, or by unilateral action by the government which has changed the policy context, and with 21% (15) yet to be delivered. Before the Covid pandemic, growth was averaging 3.7% a year, faster than the 2.8% needed to deliver the Devolution Deal doubling ambition. The report says that the fundamentals of the local economy remain very strong and commits to recovering the momentum of growth.
The Combined Authority has invested nearly £70 million and is forecast to create an extra 50,000 jobs. It has done this by focusing on delivery in key priority areas and embracing innovative approaches to achieve it. These successes include a Business Growth Service to help with Covid recovery; an employment focused university in Peterborough; an ambitious apprenticeship levy program; £94 million on capital for 2000 homes; 30 ambitious transport projects that include work to the A10 and A47, reopening Wisbech Rail and the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro; and setting up an independent climate change commission due to report in 2021. This delivery focussed deadline shortening approach has brought forward the construction timelines for the new stations in Soham and Cambridge South, and the innovative £100k Home is providing an essential first step on the property ladder for local workers that simply did not exist before.
James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough said:
The evidence clearly shows how the Combined Authority, an innovation in local democracy and an opportunity to attempt a different style of delivery, is an excellent vehicle for growth for our region. Our partnership approach has enabled us to pool our resource and excellence, work smart and deliver better. We have constantly challenged the cosy consensuses and outdated thinking that has held our area back, and pushed for faster, better delivery at every turn; the result is we are reversing years of underinvestment in left behind areas and delivering long promised projects that have been held up by the status quo. That is why I am so proud of our achievements to date.
With three-quarters of the Devolution Deal commitments delivered or in delivery, we won’t be complacent. We understand now more than ever, the work we still have to do and the challenge from Covid. I am committed to helping local businesses and communities recover momentum. We can get back to our pre Covid path.
These are tough times, but it is important to remember that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is a great success story locally and an essential part of our economic future nationally. Despite Covid we have a unique bubble of enterprise and a leading global knowledge economy, from advanced engineering and manufacturing, bioscience, AI, big data, digital, AgriTech and robotics, its exciting to know we have an exceptional pace of development. But most importantly it’s a great place to live and our investments focus on the interconnectedness of our infrastructure and housing, business and skills supports this alongside my determination to build a green thread through a region full of possibility. There are opportunities for all and whatever happens we can and are building a strong, impressive region that moves forward together.”