‘Join MK for jobs boost’
Central Bedfordshire leaders are being asked to throw in their lot with Milton Keynes to kick start economic growth in the region.
At a meeting on Tuesday (January 8) Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive will be advised to tell government they are interested in joining a Milton Keynes-centred bid for City Deal status.
Expressions of interest have to be with the Cabinet Office by January 15. Top level talks would then begin on drawing up a strategy to persuade the government to give the councils more power and money.
Already paid officers at Central Bedfordshire Council see it as a way of bringing more homes and jobs to the area, which includes Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Toddington.
In a report to the executive meeting, Gary Alderson, Director of Sustainable Communities at Central Bedfordshire Council, said the authority needed a “step change” to deliver 28,700 new homes and 27,000 new jobs by 2031.
Mr Alderson’s report reads: “If we are to deliver this level of growth we need to ensure all steps are taken to secure the critical infrastructure to deliver sustainable high quality communities in the planned urban extensions.
“The City Deal offers a new platform to achieve this...”
He added: “Between 1998 and 2008 Central Bedfordshire created an estimated 9,950 jobs of which approximately 4,000 have been in the private sector. If we are to meet our target of 27,000 jobs by 2031 a step change in job creation is required.
“The City Deal offers the opportunity to discuss across central government what additional help can be secured to pump prime both public and private investment to attract and secure more job growth across our area.”
Even if a compelling case for City Deal status is put together, there is no guarantee that the government will grant independent status. It is a competitive process involving City-centred bids from across the country. A decision will be announced next month.
Councillors will also be told City Deal status will mean they will have to agree policies and a have “political commitment” with Milton Keynes and any other councils that join the grouping.
Central Bedfordshire Council is already a part of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) that includes Milton Keynes, Luton, Bedford, Aylesbury Vale and Northampton.
The report to Tuesday’s meeting adds: “City Deals represent an opportunity to shift power and funding from the centre to the local level. Success will require new innovative approaches to how economic areas will work together and potentially new stronger local governance arrangements for shared decision making.”
If successful in its bid the final agreement is anticipated to last for at least a period of at least 10-15 years. Some elements of the agreements reached in the first wave City Deals propose a period up to 30 years.
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