A MULTI-MILLION-pound deal promising to create more than 50,000 jobs across Oxfordshire will be signed today.
Major transport schemes, 7,000 new homes and hundreds of new apprenticeships are included in the Oxford and Oxfordshire City Deal which officials say could see £1.2bn of investment over five years.
The City Deal is an agreement between local councils, the Government and a number of other partners including Oxford University and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Bob Price, pictured, leader of Oxford City Council, called it a “major step forward” and added: “The City Deal underpins a clear vision for the future development of Oxford and Oxfordshire as a powerhouse for science and technology-led innovation.
“The infrastructure requirements in housing, transport, and skills that are needed to realise the county’s economic potential will benefit hugely from the City Deal investments and the deal opens the way for a radical re-shaping of the way in which training, apprenticeships and careers guidance are delivered in Oxfordshire.”
The £55.5m will be controlled by a board made up of 12 representatives – one from each of Oxfordshire’s councils and six from the Oxfordshire LEP.
It will make decisions on where the money should be spent over a five-year period.
The City Deal includes promised investment in a number of areas including £1.5m to help train people with various skills and the creation of more than 500 apprenticeships by the Oxfordshire Skills Board. Officials say most of these apprenticeships will be in high-tech sectors such as advanced engineering, life-sciences and cryogenics.
And they say some of the funding will go towards new schemes such as a new bus system and a scheme similar to London’s Oyster Card as well as projects which are already in the pipeline such as a new link road from the A40 to the A44.
Together with private investment and schemes that have already secured funding, it is anticipated that over the five-year life of the City Deal there will be a total of £1.2bn of investment in Oxfordshire.
Ian Hudspeth, leader of the county council, said: “Through the City Deal we can now take more control of how money is spent locally and really start to capitalise on the county’s world-class assets.
“Transport will be vital to the future development of the Oxfordshire economy to connect people to jobs.
“At the moment our economy is being held back because our roads network is at full capacity and public transport needs investment.”
Oxford University will be contributing around £18m towards four “business incubators” around the county which will help small science companies take
their products to market.
Professor Ian Walmsley, pro-vice chancellor of research and university collections at the university, said: “We want even more of the research made in Oxfordshire to benefit Oxfordshire, as well as the UK and the wider world.
“Oxford University has played a key role in formulating the City Deal proposal and we will continue to work with our City Deal partners – Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Council and the LEP – to help generate new opportunities for economic growth in the region.”
Housing developments which are already in the pipeline such as the 900-home Barton Park scheme and the Oxpens development as well as developments in Bicester, will be built sooner.
Ian Wenman, vice chairman of the Oxfordshire LEP, said: “The Oxford and Oxfordshire City Deal will help capitalise on our world-class assets.
“We are in a unique position to lead the UK knowledge-based economy with many pioneering high-tech businesses already blazing a trail ahead of the rest of the world.
“The deal will help us build on our strengths to deliver growth and help us to achieve our full potential.
“It will help us to boost growth by supporting new business innovation, entrepreneurial start-ups and commercialisation alongside substantial growth for existing businesses.
WHAT THE DEAL WILL MEAN
- City deals are the latest attempt to kickstart economic growth in cities – and come in the wake of decades of criticism that too much of Britain's economy is focused on London.
- Initially the deals were offered to eight cities - Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.
- A second wave of deals opened up earlier this year to 20 other areas, including Oxford.
- It is anticipated that the deal will bring nearly 19,000 hi-tech new jobs to the county, in addition to a further 31,400 in construction.
- 500 new apprenticeships with more than 60 per cent in hi-tech sectors such as advanced engineering.
- A new bus scheme.
- ‘Smart’ tickets similar to London’s Oyster card scheme which was announced by Ian Hudspeth last year.
- Four innovation hubs in Harwell, Culham, Headington and Begbroke in the north were announced by George Osborne on Tuesday.
- Housing schemes such as Barton Park and Oxpens development in the city centre, as well as housing in Bicester, to be built sooner.
- Major improvements to transport links, including the A34 and the A40 ‘Northern Gateway’ with a new link road from the A40 to the A44 and improvements to the Cuttleslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts
- Planned rail improvements and redevelopment of Oxford station, development of the new Oxford Parkway station and rail link to London Marylebone underway.