Bristol, Cardiff and Newport cities alliance moves a step closer

Map Image copyright Great Western Cities
Image caption Cardiff, Newport and Bristol would form a "Western powerhouse" under the proposals

A collaboration between the cities of Bristol, Cardiff and Newport to boost the economy in the West has moved a step closer.

The city councils will work together, rivalling England's so-called northern powerhouse, under the Great Western Cities plan, first unveiled last year.

An independent report has concluded the alliance would "strengthen the voice of the West".

Leaders from the cities have met in Bristol to discuss the idea.

The report examined the benefits of "greater sharing, matching and learning" between the city regions, including "an influential role for universities, businesses and civil society".

Ben Lucas of advisory firm Metro Dynamics, which carried out the research, said the case for a "Great Western powerhouse" was "a strong one".

"Our research shows that there are already more people commuting between the Cardiff and Bristol Metros than between Leeds and Manchester, even though the journey is equally slow.

"As with the northern powerhouse, better connectivity will reap big rewards in creating a larger, more productive labour market across the Great Western cities."

'Not consulted'

The leaders of the City of Cardiff Council, Phil Bale, Newport City Council, Bob Bright, and mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson will unveil the report later.

However the Conservative deputy leader of North Somerset Council, Elfan Ap Rees, said the authority and others neighbouring Bristol, had not been consulted about it.

"This seems very underhanded and [George Ferguson's] move will not improve relationships in the West of England, and could jeopardise the devolution discussions with government.

"We're in the middle of trying to sort out the devolution deal to our benefit for the West of England and here's the mayor trotting off to do something entirely different. It's ridiculous."

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