Funding for the local growth deals begins in April this year, but strong progress is being made in implementing the deals even in advance of this. In Gloucestershire the growth hub, which gives advice and support to small businesses, opened at the university of Gloucestershire in October and is already being well used by local businesses.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that the university of Gloucestershire’s growth hub in the city of Gloucester is making real progress already. May I invite my right hon. Friend to visit it and, while he is there, to take the opportunity to see our exciting plans for the regeneration of Blackfriars in the city centre, which are a key feature of our LEP’s next bid?
14. I thank the Minister for the Medway growth deal, which is providing over £30 million to the local area. At the heart of the growth is the development of skilled people. Will he join me in welcoming South East LEP’s new skills capital fund, which is using £22 million for the further education sector to help provide the skills our businesses need to grow? (906796)
I welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister to Wiltshire last month for the formal signing of the Wiltshire and Swindon local growth deal. Funding in that deal for the redevelopment of Chippenham railway station could also be of great benefit to Corsham if it enabled the reopening of a platform for local train services. Does the Minister recognise that the benefit would be much wider than to Chippenham alone?
The benefits of growth deals go beyond their particular location and help improve the economic prospects of the whole area. The hon. Gentleman is fortunate in Wiltshire in having the rail Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), as an important advocate for such schemes. The important point is that they are bottom-up and they are proposed by local people.