Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future of the Western Gateway

Morning, Wednesday, 14th October 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess the next steps for improving economic growth in the Western Gateway, following its launch last year and the release of its prospectus earlier this year.

Delegates will discuss the next steps for the Western Gateway, the challenges and opportunities it offers, and its role in supporting economic growth and recovery.

The agenda includes keynote contributions from key central Government officials, council leaders, and LEPs across the Gateway including:

  • Paddy Bradley, Chief Executive Officer, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Stephen Jones, Director, Cities and Local Growth Unit, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader, Newport City Council
  • Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Paul Shand, Head of Trade, South West England, Department for International Trade
  • Councillor Rob Stewart, Leader, Swansea Council
  • Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader, Cardiff Council

The discussion in detail:

Co-ordination, partnerships and collaboration

  • The next steps for developing coordination and collaboration between local authorities, central government and other key stakeholders in the delivery of the Western Gateway
  • Strategies for facilitating joint working between local economies and developing stronger links and greater complementarity between existing growth projects, expertise and local priorities

Economic growth and development in the region

  • The way forward for promoting economic growth and development across the Western Gateway region as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19, and as the Government set out plans for 5 new business-focused groups as part of its recovery plan
  • The impact of the Western Gateway on local economies throughout the region and the way forward for realising the key benefits to be gained by a joined-up regional approach
  • Linking the work of the Gateway with ongoing initiatives on economic growth in the region, including City Deals and Local Industrial Strategies

Developing manufacturing and high-tech industry

  • What more is needed from policymakers and the private sector in terms of support and investment
  • Priorities for attracting key skills, and developing the necessary workforce to support these industries
  • The way forward for developing the region’s industrial infrastructure

Research and development

  • Enhancing the position of the South-West of England and South Wales as a hub for research and development
  • Supporting the area’s research-orientated universities and research institutions
  • Strengthening existing ties between the private sector and academic research institutions
  • Growing the funding base for research in the region

Inward investment and international trade

  • The way forward for promoting international trade and inward investment from international sources into the Western Gateway region
  • Next steps for developing the Western Gateway’s international profile and reputation as a target for investment and industrial development

Connectivity and infrastructure

  • Key infrastructure requirements and priorities for ensuring that the region taps into government’s infrastructure, levelling up and wider growth and regeneration agenda
  • Developing greater transport infrastructure - including road and rail links, and looking at:
    • the role of the Sub National Transport Body, and what more might be needed from policymakers, regulators and industry to develop greater connectivity for the region
    • next steps for achieving the Western Gateway’s stated ‘golden hour’ target for journey times throughout the region
  • Rollout of broad-coverage, high-speed digital infrastructure - including full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband, as well as 5G networks - and the importance of digital connectivity to the wider economic development of the area

The agenda:

  • Priorities for driving forward the Western Gateway - collaboration, coordination and supporting economic growth
  • The role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in supporting growth across the region and linking developments with existing growth plans and Local Industrial Strategies
  • The way forward for developing and supporting industry, enterprise, skills development, and research and development in the Western Gateway region
  • Key central government priorities for the Western Gateway:
    • Developing the South-West of England and South Wales as an economic region - developing effective partnerships between central and local government
    • Promoting trade and inward investment and developing the Western Gateway’s international profile
    • Next steps for developing connectivity and transport infrastructure in the region

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from relevant interest and campaign groups; businesses, investors and their legal, financial and public affairs advisors; universities and research institutions; representatives from the housing, construction, transport and manufacturing industries; local enterprise partnerships; think tanks, commentators and academics, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Paddy Bradley

Chief Executive Officer, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Stephen Jones

Director, Cities and Local Growth Unit, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Paul Shand

Head of Trade, South West England, Department for International Trade


James Tappenden

Fibre First Director, Openreach

Andrew Harston

Director, Wales and Short Sea Ports, Associated British Ports

Councillor Dine Romero

Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council

Councillor Huw Thomas

Leader, Cardiff Council

Councillor Jane Mudd

Leader, Newport City Council

Councillor Rob Stewart

Leader, Swansea Council