Wiltshire and Swindon to get government funding for infrastructure

Written by Tony Millett.

It’s quite a shock to be sent a press release by a Wiltshire MP with the headline “Local MP welcomes £500 million fund to boost growth in North Wiltshire.”  £500 million of public money to spent in North Wiltshire?  Is this Plan B?  Has Christmas come early? Is this what all the cuts were for?

Only when you get down to the footnotes do you find that the government’s £500 million Growing Places Fund is for the whole country and the share provisionally allotted to cover all Wiltshire and Swindon is £6,218,540.*

This money – from the Department for Communities and Local Government, not directly from the Treasury – will go to a new organisation: the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP.)  Approved by ministers in July, it will become part of a nationwide network of regional LEPs.  It is not to be confused with the Wiltshire and Swindon Economic Partnership.

The Growing Places Fund is ‘ring-fenced’ to fund infrastructure projects that will in turn enable the creation of new jobs and housing.  It will support such initiatives as the building of strategic link roads, sorting out congestion and increasing the coverage of super-fast broadband.

The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP covers a population of about 650,000 people, will serve over 26,000 businesses and is supported by Swindon and Wiltshire councils.

The LEP will be business-led and is now advertising to recruit from local businesses a chairman and eight board members.  The chairman will be appointed for three years.  The closing date for applications is December 9 and it is hoped the board will be up and running by the end of January 2012.

Click here to see the recruitment advertisement.

Another boost for local jobs:

The Chippenham-based company DTR VMS Ltd has, with the support of Wiltshire Council, secured a £3 million from the government’s Regional Growth Fund to develop its products and so safeguard 195 jobs and create up to twenty-one new jobs over the next few years.

This grant is one of 119 successful bids for financial support from the Fund and one of only eight in the South West.  DTR VMS Ltd makes specialist components for cars and trucks.

The company is owned by the South Korean company Dong Ah Tire and Rubber Company and will use the grant to develop its research and development capacity with a new purpose-built facility.  It is hoped that by 2010, once products developed at the new facility are brought to market, the company will create more than fifty new direct jobs and over two hundred indirect jobs in supplier companies. 

[* Don’t worry too much that this new money will see greatly increased concreting over of Wiltshire’s countryside.  The per mile cost of the HS2 high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham is put at £130 million.  And a recent costing for the very controversial link road long-planned between Bexhill and Hastings came in at plus-or-minus £85.9 million – all twenty miles of it.]