A NEW plan that sets out details of how to get Gloucestershire’s economy booming again has been heavily criticised by Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
The Conservative MP attacked the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for Growing Gloucestershire, devised by the county’s local enterprise partnership GFirst, for not recognising the interests of people and businesses in the Cotswolds.
He said: “While the plan is perfectly happy to take credit for the Cotswold as being a wonderful place to live, there is virtually nothing in the plan that will benefit the people of the Cotswolds.”
The SEP sets out key priorities for supporting the growth of businesses throughout the county, such as increasing broadband coverage across the district and improving the county’s road network.
However Mr Clifton-Brown has criticised GFirst for not prominently promoting the scheme to improve the problematic stretch of the A417 between Birdlip and Nettleton Bottom.
The first mention of the missing link campaign in the 38 page document is found 18 pages in. “The only way that the missing link will ever be built is if a coalition of LEP’s and local authorities combine together to produce a substantial amount of core funding,” he said.
“This report isn’t anything like hard hitting enough to obtain funding for the missing link.”
The Cotswold MP, who has represented the local area in Parliament for over 20 years, said it was a “disgrace” that Cirencester is not mentioned as one of the county’s key towns, despite being the largest settlement after Gloucester and Cheltenham.
“With its Roman connections, museums and other cultural activities Cirencester is one of the most important destinations in the county,” he said.
Mr Clifton-Brown has since met with Diane Savory, chairman of GFirst, and David Owen, its chief executive, to discuss his criticisms in detail.
Pete Carr, deputy chief executive of GFirst, said: “What Geoffrey was commenting on was a draft of the plan and we will take his feedback into consideration in the final version which will be submitted to the government by the end of March.”
After publishing the plan, GFirst has now submitted an additional strategy requesting £35.7million of EU funding.
The supplementary funding will be used to enhance the local economy and environment in Gloucestershire between 2014 and 2020.
For more information on the plan, visit www.gfirstlep.com.