Mid Wales needs a Growth Deal too, says National Assembly committee
Mid Wales needs the same sort of investment funding and advantages which come with city region deals in other parts of Wales, according to a National Assembly committee.
The Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee has been examining the potential of deals covering Swansea Bay and Cardiff, each worth more than a billion pounds in funding over the next 10-15 years.
There are plans for a similar arrangement in north Wales.
The deals between Welsh Government, UK Government, local authorities and private investment will see money ploughed into better transport, internet connectivity, business development and innovation, as well as other programmes aimed at providing jobs and raising living standards.
But the Committee found that, while a partnership body has been established charged with identifying themes and investment priorities, there are currently no plans for a similar deal covering mid Wales. Local authorities and business leaders in the area told the Committee they felt left behind and ignored.
"These new regional deals, worth billions of pounds, are re-shaping the economic development priorities of South Wales, and have the potential to do the same for the rest of Wales," said Russell George AM, Chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
"A mid-Wales deal would complete the jigsaw for an ambitious vision. We believe that funding aimed at improving transport infrastructure, digital connectivity and developing new job opportunities would be of huge benefit both to the area and to the country as a whole.
"We also want to see the benefits of these deals reach the most disadvantaged in their areas.
"It is heartening to see that leaders of the deals are mindful of these issues, but it is not clear whether that will be enough to ensure that deals can avoid the creation of winners and losers."
The Committee makes 11 recommendations in its report, including:
There should be a Growth Deal for mid Wales. The Welsh Government and the Growing Mid Wales Partnership must engage with a wide cross section of communities between the Valleys and the A55 corridor, and along Wales' west coast, to decide what practical measures should be included;
The Welsh Government should continue to support plans for a North Wales Growth Deal and use the influence it has to accelerate this process; and
The Welsh Government should put a duty on regional bodies to promote economic development/inclusive growth, with discretion to spend a substantial amount of funding whether from Welsh Government, or raised within the region.
The report will be sent to the Welsh Government for consideration.