Call to know how new City Deal will ben­e­fit Brid­gend as first in­vest­ment goes to New­port

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - LIZ BRADFIELD liz.bradfield@reach­plc.com

MORE progress needs to be made on iden­ti­fy­ing projects which will re­ceive in­vest­ment through the Cardiff Cap­i­tal Re­gion City Deal, ac­cord­ing to Brid­gend coun­cil­lors who say res­i­dents want to know ex­actly how it is go­ing to ben­e­fit them.

The £1.2bn City Deal has four strate­gic themes: skills and em­ploy­ment, in­no­va­tion, con­nect­ing the re­gion, re­gen­er­a­tion and in­fra­struc­ture.

It in­volves 10 lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and aims to cre­ate 25,000 jobs across the re­gion and bring in £4bn of pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment by 2036.

Speak­ing at a re­cent Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil meet­ing, the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Dar­ren Mepham said the City Deal was all about “a re­gional of­fer”.

He said: “One of the first things the City Deal did was to com­mis­sion an eco­nomic as­sess­ment of the re­gion to see where we have our best chance of in­vest­ment.

“We are putting for­ward ideas and look­ing at how they link up with the wider re­gional of­fer.

“The hous­ing fund is a strate­gic pro­gramme that will ben­e­fit many ar­eas across the re­gion for ex­am­ple, while the skills pro­gramme will ben­e­fit all ar­eas in­clud­ing Brid­gend.

“With trans­port, clearly we have as­pi­ra­tions around Brid­gend rail­way sta­tion as a strate­gic hub and its place in the wider metro scheme.

“We’ve also talked about how we lever­age in­vest­ment around our en­ergy sec­tor as we know we have a nat­u­ral con­cen­tra­tion of en­ergy tech in­dus­tries.”

He added: “There are some as­pects which in­volve the re­gen­er­a­tion of Porth­cawl – there’s a way of de­vel­op­ing that so it has a re­gional as­pect and be­comes part of a wider pack­age of des­ti­na­tion in­vest­ment whether that’s sports in­vest­ment, the re­sort it­self or a ho­tel of­fer for the re­gion.

“It’s an on­go­ing di­a­logue.”

The first in­vest­ment has seen a loan of £38.5m go to a com­pound semi­con­duc­tor project in New­port – IQE has moved into the for­mer LG plant in Im­pe­rial Park and is due to open this sum­mer.

At the meet­ing Coun­cil­lor Rod Shaw asked why it was placed in New­port given Brid­gend’s “pre­em­i­nence” in the tech sec­tor.

City Deal chair­man, and Rhondda Cynon Taf Coun­cil leader, An­drew Mor­gan said the lo­ca­tion was im­por­tant due to a wafer fab man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany be­ing next door to the site and IQE need­ing the size of the old LG Semi­con plant fa­cil­ity premises, adding “ob­vi­ously it would have been mil­lions of pounds to build those premises”.

Com­pound semi­con­duc­tors are es­sen­tial com­po­nents in­side many of the de­vices chang­ing the way we live, such a wifi, smart­phones, GPS, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions and more ef­fi­cient LEDs

They will also be cru­cial for many of to­mor­row’s ad­vanced ap­pli­ca­tions, such as elec­tric ve­hi­cles with anti-col­li­sion sen­sors, wear­able tech­nol­ogy to mon­i­tor health and high-ef­fi­ciency so­lar cells to use in space.

Coun­cil­lor Mor­gan said: “Al­though it’s based in New­port, one of the key things for my­self and why I’m able to stand up in my county and sell this project was the reach of IQE in terms of not just direct em­ploy­ees but all across the coun­ties work with.

“For ex­am­ple with Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics in Merthyr mak­ing the tanks, GE in Nant­garw, Ford in Brid­gend – how these semi­con­duc­tors are be­ing used and the sup­ply chain of com­pa­nies was a re­ally big sell­ing point.

“We are also talk­ing now about uni­ver­si­ties link­ing in with this new tech­nol­ogy. This re­ally does have the po­ten­tial to grow jobs in the re­gion rather than just based in the foundry in New­port.”

Brid­gend Coun­cil leader Huw David said strate­gic projects such as the IQE one in New­port was im­por­tant to Brid­gend.

He said: “We have se­cured high qual­ity, high paid jobs in the re­gion in a hi-tech in­dus­try and that’s im­por­tant be­cause we have peo­ple from Brid­gend work­ing for IQE and I’m re­ally pleased that they that Brid­gend Col­lege is sup­port­ing that clus­ter in terms of help­ing to de­liver the skills and train­ing that’s so im­por­tant to the in­dus­try.

“IQE could of, and were con­sid­er­ing, al­ter­na­tive sites be­cause they al­ready have a pres­ence in Cal­i­for­nia and in Asia.”

He added: “It’s a small re­gion – 55 miles at its widest point so strate­gic projects will have wider ben­e­fits than just any one of the sin­gle au­thor­i­ties.”

The re­gional cabi­net has given an in-prin­ci­ple com­mit­ment to a cen­tral trans­port in­ter­change “Metro Cen­tral”, a re­gional Hous­ing In­vest­ment Fund, a dig­i­tal strat­egy which in­cludes de­vel­op­ment re­gional wifi and a re­gional skills pro­gramme

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