Cy­ber plan im­por­tant for our town

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Coun­cil­lor An­drew Mckin­lay Cab­i­net Mem­ber Devel­op­ment and Safety

THE re­cent an­nounce­ment that Chel­tenham Bor­ough Coun­cil has bought 45 hectares of devel­op­ment land to push for­ward the town’s Cy­ber Cen­tral plan has been pos­i­tively re­ceived in the town and Glouces­ter­shire as a whole.

Cy­ber Cen­tral is an am­bi­tious plan for West Chel­tenham that builds on our area’s spe­cial­ist ex­per­tise in tech­nol­ogy. It aims to fuel growth of skilled jobs and lo­cal busi­nesses, con­tribut­ing to a healthy econ­omy and sup­port­ing thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in which to live and work. The project is of huge lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional sig­nif­i­cance as shown by the sig­nif­i­cant sup­port al­ready re­ceived from many White­hall de­part­ments. It is in re­al­ity much more than a tra­di­tional busi­ness park.

So why has the Coun­cil taken this im­por­tant de­ci­sion now, when there is so much uncer­tainty about the econ­omy and the fu­ture of the county as a re­sult of Brexit? The an­swer is clear – it is pre­cisely be­cause this devel­op­ment is so im­por­tant for the town’s fu­ture.

The land pur­chase will help en­sure, to­gether with the Coun­cil’s partners, the town gets the very best from the devel­op­ment. The Coun­cil is now bet­ter placed to in­flu­ence how the Cy­ber Park pro­gresses in terms of time scales for the devel­op­ment, but also in en­sur­ing that Chel­tenham max­imises the ben­e­fit from the devel­op­ment, eco­nom­i­cally, en­vi­ron­men­tally, and cul­tur­ally.

At a time when com­mer­cial in­vest­ment in the UK risks stalling, the Coun­cil has been able use its own money rais­ing pow­ers to en­sure that Cy­ber Cen­tral is not de­layed.

We see this as a good in­vest­ment be­cause the Cy­ber in­dus­try is one of the most rapidly ex­pand­ing sec­tors in the world econ­omy, with Cy­ber Se­cu­rity a cru­cial com­po­nent of it. This is also an in­dus­try in which the UK is a world leader, with GCHQ its flag ship. The in­ter­na­tional na­ture of the Cy­ber In­dus­try will limit the im­pact Brexit has on the fu­ture devel­op­ment of the site. This is an in­vest­ment in the fu­ture of Chel­tenham. It will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for our young peo­ple for decades to come as well as fi­nan­cial re­turns to the Coun­cil to fund the ser­vices we pro­vide.

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