The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership is backing plans for Cornwall to achieve the most ambitious County Deal possible in negotiations with Government.

Cornwall is among a first wave of areas that have been invited to bid for County Deal status and the LEP has endorsed Cornwall Council’s plan to bid for a ‘Tier 3’ deal.

The LEP said this would maximise decision-making and investment in Cornwall, with a long-term investment fund and greater control over existing funding streams.

At its board meeting last week, the LEP unanimously agreed to support Cornwall Council in negotiating a Tier 3 deal. And it agreed to set up a private sector Devolution Deal group to provide the business voice in ongoing discussions with Cornwall Council, Council of the Isles of Scilly, and Government.

Mark Duddridge, chair of the LEP, said: “We have seen through the delivery of Growth Deal, Getting Building Fund and EU funding that investment decisions taken locally better meet the challenges and opportunities of the regional economy.

“It’s clear from the Levelling Up White Paper that there are significant benefits to be had from a Tier 3 deal which maximises decision making and investment in Cornwall. And that the Government wants to embed a strong, independent and diverse local business voice into local democratic institutions.

“In particular, we want to ensure there is meaningful private sector input into the emerging Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). We very much welcome moves towards Cornwall Council leading on the delivery of the SPF, which we hope will be quicker, clearer and more joined up than previous EU funds. This will be vital to attracting private investment and supporting emerging sectors such as geo-resources, renewable energy, space and data, and our bedrock sectors like tourism and agriculture.”

He added: “With growing costs pressures facing many of our communities and industries, we hope a County Deal can help unlock investment to provide timely support and advice as quickly as possible.”

Duddridge said Cornwall was poised to make a significant contribution to the UK economy and the transition to net zero through the development of floating offshore wind energy and technology metal mining. Both he said were a huge environmental and economic opportunity at a time of rising energy costs.

And he called for any County Deal to include more freedoms to tackle the lack of affordable housing in Cornwall, which he said was having a significant impact on individuals, families and the ability of local businesses to recruit and retain staff.

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