Nick Clegg: Giving Bristol the freedom to thrive
YESTERDAY I announced new powers that will unshackle Bristol from London and give it the freedom to thrive.
Famous the world over for its rich heritage in maritime industry and trade, railways and engineering, Bristol has a proud history of economic strength that helped to make the UK what it is today. But with some decline of these industries, Bristol – like so many other cities in the UK – has lost out to London and been challenged, sometimes overtaken, by counterparts in Europe, North America and the East.
Its potential has not been fulfilled because we haven't adapted quickly enough to the changing economy and global demands on trade.
It is my top priority to correct this – to rebalance our economy so that Bristol, and other major cities, gets a fair crack of the whip. So that it's not just Whitehall that controls the country's purse strings, and so that great cities across England can take back huge chunks of power from Whitehall. To ensure cities like Bristol can continue and thrive as great economic powerhouses.
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The deal Bristol has struck is a box of tricks that will set the city free to be innovative and unique. Among other things, it aims to create 40,000 jobs, through the five designated enterprise growth areas. Bristol and the West of England will be able to keep all business rate growth in these areas, in turn investing the proceeds into further economic growth projects.
But I'm not going to do the work to make this investment fly – you are. I want to free everyone in Bristol of the ties that bind you to decisions made by politicians in Whitehall, to give you control of budgets and decision-making – and I want you to do it your own way. What if you could keep more of the taxes that local companies pay? What if that cash could be spent on building better roads for more deliveries and easier access to the city?
Well it's not 'if' any more, it's happening – we're cutting the ties, you're taking control. But more power comes with greater responsibility. With more control and freedom, Bristol will thrive – it's in your own interests to make it work. Spend the money wisely, get the best bang for your buck, and reinvent yourself.
No matter where you live, no matter who you are, you can benefit from a strong and resilient economy. Over to you.
Deputy PM: Nick Clegg