The new European investment programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is finally set to get underway following agreement with the European Union.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly have been working together with the UK Government to finalise the lengthy negotiations.
The LEP said it was hopeful that the first ‘calls’ for EU-funded projects would be made in a matter of days.
The new programme, through which some £500 million of funding will be available from now until 2020, will be called the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Programme.
LEP chairman Chris Pomfret said: “The LEP and its partners, including Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, have been working hard behind the scenes to finalise these negotiations and get our programme moving, so this is very good news.
“Together we have secured significant commitments in shaping how the money will be spent, including the creation of a single investment programme that helps us pull together different funding streams for maximum impact.
“We also have the freedom to develop a locally tailored programme of business support through the creation of our own Growth Hub, which will ensure that access to EU funds and projects by local businesses is as simple as we can make it.”
Pomfret admitted that the LEP won’t have the level of control over the programme that they initially wanted, but had “secured the best deal we could”.
“The focus now has got to be on spending the money to create jobs and boost our economy,” he said.
Julian German, Cornwall Council’s cabinet member for economy and culture, commented: “Whilst we are disappointed that we have not been offered a greater level of local control over our EU funding, we are pleased that it will start to flow in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“Local involvement is key to delivering an effective programme to address the systemic economic issues that Cornwall faces. We will continue to support partners in ensuring that our local voice is heard as we move into delivering investments for the region.”
Toby Parkins, president of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, added: “The business community will be breathing a sigh of relief that we’ve finally got our EU Growth Programme over the line.
“What’s important now is that they are kept fully informed about how they can access and benefit from this funding as projects come on stream later this year.”
The next step will see the Government publish the first round of ‘calls’ for the delivery of the first EU-funded projects in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Investment priorities include support for business, new workspace and skills development.