Government backs new Oxford to Cambridge Pan Regional Partnership

Published: Tuesday, 24th January 2023

Proposals for a locally-led Partnership for the Oxford to Cambridge region have been given the green light by government.

  • Secretary of State Rt Hon Michael Gove MP confirms support for the establishment of an Oxford to Cambridge Pan Regional Partnership.
  • The endorsement follows a proposal submitted to government by leaders from local councils, local enterprise partnerships, the Arc Universities Group and the area’s transport body, England’s Economic Heartland.
  • Backing for the pan-regional partnership unlocks access to up to £2.5million government funding for the Partnership to support its priorities in delivering sustainable growth and environmental enhancements for the region.

The Partnership’s role will be to champion the region as a world leader of innovation and business, acting to achieve environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth. It will strengthen cross-boundary collaboration among its partners to focus on tackling the issues that matter to the people who live and work in the region.

The Partnership’s initial programme is to:

  • develop a set of propositions to attract international investment and profile the region on a global stage
  • continue the work underway to embed shared Environment Principles

Following the official commitment from government, the Partnership will begin active recruitment of an independent Chair. In the interim, a Shadow Board has been set up to oversee the Partnership’s programme and agree governance and funding.

Chair of the Shadow Board, Cllr Barry Wood said:

“We believe that by working together the whole Oxford to Cambridge region can be greater than the sum of its parts. With official status as a Pan-Regional Partnership backed by government, we can unlock potential and further strengthen our area’s position as a hub of innovation; a globally recognised region of science and technology that delivers prosperity for our communities.

“It will enable us to better achieve inclusive and sustainable outcomes for residents, business and the environment.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said:

“Working in partnership is one of the most important things we do as a council. The area that the Pan Regional Partnership covers is already known world-wide for our innovation and research and we want to work together to make sure that our local residents benefit in an inclusive way from the strengths of our local economies. We also want to continue the excellent work that we have already started on becoming an area of innovation around biodiversity and tackling climate change.”

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“This is a welcome step forward for partners across the Oxford to Cambridge area who are in a strong position to work together to create conditions for economic growth underpinned by environmental sustainability. Now that this official status has been bestowed we can work more intensively towards our common aims and the benefits they will bring to residents across our individual areas.”

Councillor Andy Graham, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“Growing our local economy and tackling the climate emergency are key priorities for the area.

“We are excited at the prospect of working with other councils, universities and business-led local enterprise partnerships to explore what opportunities we have and work together to improve Oxfordshire for our residents.

“We already have good partnership working across a wide range of topics but this partnership will help us to better collaborate on some of the big issues we face and do more by working together.”

The Shadow Board members are:

• Cllr Barry Wood, Leader Cherwell District Council sitting as Interim Chair of the Board

• Cllr Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council representing the Future Oxfordshire Partnership

• Cllr Pete Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes City Council representing the Central Area Growth Board

• Cllr Richard Wenham, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council representing the Central Area Growth Board and Chair of England's Economic Heartland*

• Cllr Anna Smith, Leader of Cambridge City Council representing the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

• Professor Alistair Fitt, Pro-Vice Chancellor Oxford Brookes University sitting as Chair of the Arc Universities Group

• Peter Horrocks, Chair of regional LEPs and Business Boards, and Chair of the Economy Sub-Group

• Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader South Cambridgeshire District Council, Chair of the Environment Sub-Group

• * Representative for England’s Economic Heartland is to be confirmed