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Closer links with West Midlands call

Created on 19/07/2016 @ 10:13
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Close economic links should be forged between mid and west Wales and the West Midlands, according to Wales' economy secretary.

Ken Skates told BBC Wales there was “a great appetite” from both regions to work together for mutual benefit.

He wants an east-west economic axis, to tap into the Midlands tourism market, as well as promoting products.

Mr Skates is to meet Midlands Connect, which represents 28 councils and 11 enterprise partnerships.

He said he wanted to ensure that Wales does not miss out on the opportunities offered by the UK government in terms of growth deals and city deals.

Already, north Wales is looking at the “northern powerhouse” of north-west England.

“Increasingly it appears to me there's collaboration to be had between mid Wales and the West Midlands,” he said.

“So I'm going to be meeting with those leaders of Midlands Connect to make sure what mid Wales offers the UK is taken advantage of so that the rural economy in mid Wales can prosper as part of the UK economy.

“My view is in terms of the economy, east-west connectivity is just as important if not more important than north-south connectivity. So I will make sure there's collaboration taking place at every level possible.”

Mr Skates said he believed that, in light of Brexit, there are going to be more opportunities for “staycations” in Wales from tourists from the West Midlands.

He said he wanted to “tap in” to the area, not just for holidays and day trips but also for the sale of goods, particularly food and drink products.

“Our aim is to ensure the product and the services from mid and west Wales are promoted accordingly in the West Midlands and in other key markets of England where there's huge appetite for all things Welsh,” he said.

“There's a great opportunity here now and we don't want to miss out on it.”

Midlands Connect covers a population of 11.5m across the West and East Midlands regions, with the economy worth an estimated £222bn to the UK.

It believes improving transport links - including into Welsh border counties Herefordshire and Shropshire - could boost the economy and create an extra 300,000 jobs.

The economic landscape on the face of it could not be more different than the most rural of Welsh counties, Powys.

The full story is available at


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