Wales politics

Swansea Bay city deal 'could be agreed within six weeks'

Fibre-optic cables Image copyright Thinkstock

A £1.3bn investment plan for south west Wales that includes the creation of an "internet coast" is close to being agreed, according to Swansea council.

The Swansea Bay city region deal would boost digital technology for advances in areas such as healthcare and energy.

The deal aims to create thousands of jobs and attract a further £2bn of investment over 15 years.

Swansea council said it hoped an agreement with UK ministers could be reached by the end of February.

The city deal has already been backed in principle by the Welsh Government.

The projects, across the Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire council areas, include:

  • A fibre-optic transatlantic cable from New York to Oxwich Bay for ultrafast broadband
  • Connecting renewable and conventional energy firms digitally and developing new systems and storage processes
  • A "cloud" enterprise zone to attract data companies
  • Using the internet to improve health diagnostics, manage data and create personal treatment plans and tele-care
  • A steel science centre

It is estimated the city deal, which has been analysed by Swansea University, could potentially create as many as 33,000 jobs over two decades.

A total of £241m would come from the Welsh and UK governments, £360m from other public bodies - the councils, higher education and the European Union - and £673m from private firms.

Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said approval of the deal would be "another game-changer" for the area, after proposals for a Swansea Bay tidal lagoon were backed by a review commissioned by UK ministers.

"Worth £1.3bn to the regional economy, the city deal has the power to improve people's lives by opening up thousands of jobs, creating far more opportunities and generating a cutting-edge digital environment that will allow innovation and enterprise to flourish," he said.

Councillors will be asked on 26 January to give Mr Stewart and council chief executive Phil Roberts authority to sign a deal in principle.

Similar meetings are being held at the other councils involved in the scheme.

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