Proposals for a locally-led Partnership for the Oxford to Cambridge region have been given the green light by the government, with Secretary of State Rt Hon Michael Gove MP confirming his support for establishing the Oxford to Cambridge Pan Regional Partnership.
The endorsement follows a proposal submitted to the government by leaders from local councils, local enterprise partnerships, the Arc Universities Group and the area’s transport body, England’s Economic Heartland.
Backing for the pan-regional partnership unlocks access to up to £2.5 million in government funding for the partnership to support its priorities in delivering sustainable growth and environmental enhancements for the region.
The partnership’s role will be to champion the region as a world leader in innovation and business, acting to achieve environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth. It will strengthen the cross-boundary collaboration among its partners to focus on tackling the issues that matter to the people who live and work in the region.
The partnership’s initial programme is to:
- develop a set of propositions to attract international investment and profile the region on a global stage
- continue the work underway to embed shared Environment Principles
Following the official commitment from the government, the partnership will begin the active recruitment of an independent Chair. In the interim, a Shadow Board has been set up to oversee the partnership’s programme and agree on governance and funding.
The Shadow Board members are:
- Councillor Barry Wood, Leader Cherwell District Council, sitting as Interim Chair of the Board
- Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council representing the Future Oxfordshire Partnership
- Councillor Pete Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes City Council representing the Central Area Growth Board
- Councillor Richard Wenham, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council representing the Central Area Growth Board and Chair of England’s Economic Heartland*
- Councillor Anna Smith, Leader of Cambridge City Council representing the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority
- Professor Alistair Fitt, Pro-Vice Chancellor Oxford Brookes University, sitting as Chair of the Arc Universities Group
- Peter Horrocks, Chair of regional LEPs and Business Boards and Chair of the Economy Sub-Group
- Councillor Bridget Smith, Leader South Cambridgeshire District Council, Chair of the Environment Sub-Group
Chair of the Shadow Board, Councillor Barry Wood, said: “We believe that by working together the whole Oxford to Cambridge region can be greater than the sum of its parts. With official status as a Pan-Regional Partnership backed by the government, we can unlock potential and further strengthen our area’s position as a hub of innovation, a globally recognised region of science and technology that delivers prosperity for our communities. It will enable us to better achieve inclusive and sustainable outcomes for residents, business and the environment.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “Working in partnership is one of the most important things we do as a council. The area that the Pan Regional Partnership covers is already known worldwide for our innovation and research, and we want to work together to make sure that our local residents benefit in an inclusive way from the strengths of our local economies. We also want to continue the excellent work that we have already started on becoming an area of innovation around biodiversity and tackling climate change.”
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “This is a welcome step forward for partners across the Oxford to Cambridge area who are in a strong position to work together to create conditions for economic growth underpinned by environmental sustainability. Now that this official status has been bestowed, we can work more intensively towards our common aims and the benefits they will bring to residents across our individual areas.”
Councillor Andy Graham, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Growing our local economy and tackling the climate emergency are key priorities for the area. We are excited at the prospect of working with other councils, universities and business-led local enterprise partnerships to explore what opportunities we have and work together to improve Oxfordshire for our residents. We already have a good partnership working across a wide range of topics, but this partnership will help us to better collaborate on some of the big issues we face and do more by working together.”