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Make some noise over £280m growth blueprint, says council chief
ONE of Worcester's leading figures has issued a rallying call over a £280 million growth blueprint - saying now is the time to "make some noise" over it.
Duncan Sharkey, the city council's managing director, says an ambitious plan to grow Worcestershire's economy by nearly £3 billion by creating 25,000 extra jobs needs to be taken seriously.
The county has gone cap-in-hand and asked the Government for help to fund more than 50 different projects by 2025.
The blueprint, led by Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership, includes £63 million to dual the A4440 Carrington Bridge, £7 million for a new Worcestershire parkway railway station at Norton, £4 million to revamp Pershore college, funding for 1,000 more apprenticeships, £14 million towards further education and rafts of other huge projects.
The Government has dangled a carrot in front of LEPs by asking them to develop their own growth blueprints, known as Strategic Economic Plans, saying they will hand out £2 billion towards the best ideas.
The first set of money is due to be announced some time this summer, with Mr Sharkey saying he expects Worcestershire to get "a fair share".
"We're in a competitive process, 38 other LEPs are bidding for money too and we're hopeful of an announcement some time between now and September," he said.
"We're all pulling together to make sure we get a fair share - we're trying to grow our economy by a third and this is about ambition.
"We want Worcestershire to be a world class place which provides people with world class skills.
"We've a history in this country of training people up for yesterday's jobs - we want to train them for tomorrow's jobs and equip them for the world.
"If we can make this work we aim to create 25,000 jobs and bring £2.9 billion of (new economic activity) into the county.
"It's also important to emphasise we're in it for the long haul - we've heard the initial Government announcement may be about funding for year one but this plan goes to 2025.
"It's 10 years of investment."
Speaking during a cabinet meeting, he urged people across Worcestershire to "make some noise" over the plan, especially on social media, in a bid to shape Government thinking.
"We're doing our lobbying on it and still are, but anything anyone can do to promote it helps," he said.
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