Swansea City Region

Report recommends Swansea Bay gets City Region status

MORE job opportunities and investment could be on the way to Swansea Bay after a report recommended City Region status for the area.

The report says Swansea Bay - an area covering Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire - should be given the new status to help drive economic growth.

The Welsh Government will now consider the findings of the report before formally stating its position later in the year.

The recommendation means Swansea Bay could follow in the footsteps of other UK and European cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and Bilbao where City Region status has brought significant economic benefits.

The focus in Swansea Bay would be on developing an innovative and sustainable economy that taps into its strengths, including stunning outdoor scenery, quality of life and the area's thriving colleges and universities.

City Region status could also help rebalance the economy by expanding the private sector, attracting investment and narrowing the economic gap with the rest of the UK.

It would mean Swansea Bay could grow from a position of strength. Many people already commute across the area for work reasons and the region benefits from strong transport links.

International research also shows economic growth increasingly happens in regions centred on a city and that populations of more than 500,000 attract higher skilled, better paid jobs. Swansea Bay's combined population of more than 667,000 comfortably exceeds that threshold.

Cllr David Phillips, Swansea Council Leader, said: "I welcome the findings of this report. This is potentially great news because City Region status would help attract more investment and jobs to the Swansea Bay area. It would also mean we could make the most of our key strengths like the area's natural environment and our expertise in technology and cutting-edge research.

"Swansea Bay could speak with one voice and tackle shared economic challenges together if the area has City Region status. This would help boost the economy across the region.

"Working as a region would also mean we'd become a bigger and stronger player on the UK economic stage."

Cllr Ali Thomas, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: "The City Region would give a new impetus for collaboration across the public and private sectors. The new Innovation Campus for Swansea University, now nearing fruition, is a fantastic example of a project that could help drive forward the City Region by creating jobs, promoting innovation, attracting inward investment and delivering large-scale regeneration."

Cllr Kevin Madge, Carmarthenshire Council Leader, said: "As an administration we are committed to jobs growth, and this is potentially excellent news which will support that objective. City Region status would be good for the region and for investment in the partnership area. We would look forward to working with our partners and the Welsh Government to maximise this opportunity for the benefit of all who live and work in the region."

The new status could build on the region's existing links such as the closeness of major attractions like Pembrokeshire National Park, Gower, Margam Country Park, Pembrey Country Park, Parc y Scarlets, the Liberty Stadium and Ffos Las Racecourse.

The region's three universities have a strong track record of collaboration through the Dragon Innovation Partnership. Swansea Metropolitan University, Trinity St David and the University of Wales are also in the process of merging to create a regional institution.

Further links include bodies like the South West Wales Economic Forum, the Regional Learning Partnership for South West Wales and the Swansea Bay Partnership that already address economic and regeneration issues facing the region.