A word from the Secretary of State for Wales Rt. Hon Alun Cairns MP
At the end of this year, the UK government will deliver on its promise to abolish the tolls on the Severn Crossings and deliver the biggest economic stimulus Wales has seen in decades.
It was my number one priority when I became Secretary of State for Wales, sending a direct message to industry, commuters and tourists alike that Wales is open for business. We have delivered and I am pleased to say that the landmark policy backed by the Prime Minister will transform the economic prospects of the area.
While these iconic landmarks have served commuters, businesses and local communities in Wales and England well for over 50 years, they have also been a damaging economic barrier and hindrance to the prosperity on both sides of the water.
A natural corridor for economic growth
But by ending the tolls for the 25 million annual journeys across the Severn, we will create the most natural economic growth corridor spanning Cardiff through Newport to Bristol. Moreover, it will also signal the start of a potential transformation of the joint economic and cultural prospects of South Wales and the South West of England.
The value of connectivity between these two regions is clear beyond doubt. Between Bristol, Newport and Cardiff we have one of the strongest digital corridors in the UK. Our universities and higher education institutions also have extensive research links with industry and businesses through several institutes and centres on either side of the Severn.
I see this as just the start – with further announcements to come this year in regard to the crossings – where these structures will be seen as the positive symbol of a newly invigorated and successful economic and social partnership between communities.
A regional economy fit for the future
It is the importance of this collaboration which is driving the UK government’s commitment to bolster these existing relationships and develop new partnerships across the nations.
That is why we brought representatives from business, education, cultural and the digital sectors together at the inaugural Severn Growth Summit in January to co-operate with each other on opportunities to make our economies stronger and more dynamic.
This event can be the catalyst to the forging and strengthening of partnerships with innovators, inventors, job creators, local leaders, the devolved administrations, workers and consumers as we work together to make our country fit for the future.
As we move closer to our departure from the European Union, more decisions about our economic future will be in our own hands – and it is vital that we take them.
Our individual strengths are many. But by pooling our resources, expertise and experiences, we can deliver ideas and projects that will not only benefit the cities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Newport and Gwent Valleys but the wider South Wales and South West England regions as well.
The UK government has high economic ambitions for Wales. I hope this event will give us all a stronger voice to promote our joint ambitions, and allow us all to take forward future economic and cultural opportunities that will deliver prosperity for the whole of the UK.
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