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.
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Next steps for the Western Gateway - local collaboration, supporting key drivers for growth, and coordinating with central government policy

Morning, Wednesday, 14th October 2020

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

This conference will assess the next steps for improving economic growth in the Western Gateway.

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

Delegates will discuss:

  • the next steps for the Gateway
  • the challenges and opportunities it offers
  • what will be needed to achieve its aims for economic growth and recovery
  • priorities for the full vision document for the partnership to be released following the completion of an Independent Economic Review later in this year
  • prospects for realising the Gateway’s ambitions to add more than £56bn to the UK economy by 2030 and to contribute to national net-zero objectives

The discussion follows the Gateway’s launch last year - and the release of its prospectus which includes strategic priorities for the region:

  • innovation
  • connectivity

a coordinated approach to international trade and investment

The discussion in detail:

Collaboration to develop the Western Gateway

  • priorities - key areas for coordination and collaboration between local authorities and their local economies, central government, and other key stakeholders
  • strategies - facilitating joint working and the development of the stronger links the region needs
  • coordination - developing greater complementarity between existing growth projects, expertise and local priorities

Economic growth and development in the region

  • COVID-19 - the way forward for promoting economic growth and development across the Western Gateway region as the economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic
  • spreading the benefits - how to maximise the impact of the Western Gateway on local economies throughout the region and priorities for a joint regional approach
  • joining up policy - linking the work of the Gateway with City Deals and Local Industrial Strategies and other ongoing initiatives for economic growth in the region

Developing manufacturing and high-tech industry

  • investment and support - what more is needed from policymakers and the private sector
  • the workforce - priorities for attracting and developing skills to support key industries
  • infrastructure - development priorities for supporting the region’s industrial base

Research and development

  • the region’s profile - enhancing the position of the South-West of England and South Wales as a hub for research and development
  • research-orientated universities and institutions - assessing and delivering the support they need
  • the private sector and academic research institutions - the way forward for strengthening existing ties
  • growing the funding base for research in the region

Inward investment and international trade

  • international trade and inward investment - strategies for growth
  • international profile and reputation - how can this be developed to support the Western Gateway’s competitive position as a target for investment and industrial development

Connectivity and infrastructure

  • key infrastructure requirements - priorities for ensuring that the region taps into government’s agenda for infrastructure, levelling up, and widening growth and regeneration
  • transport - 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
    • the golden hour target for journey times throughout the region - next steps for achieving this Western Gateway aim and improving cross-border rail connectivity
  • digital - rollout of broad-coverage, 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

Gateway developments at a glance:

  • Plans for a new £120m mainline train station between Cardiff and Newport, aimed at creating 6,000 jobs, being prepared to be submitted to the UK Government later this year
  • Newport East MP, Jessica Morden, calling on the UK Government to support the Western Gateway project
  • A report by Newport City Council outlining the project’s key potential benefits, including making transport in the region more efficient through a golden hour Western Gateway smart ticket
  • An interim report to be published this autumn, which will highlight obstacles to development as well as immediate opportunities for investment
  • The Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body publishing its Draft Strategic Transport Plan 2020-2025, outlining aims in the next five years and longer-term, including the introduction of four Strategic Corridor Partnerships Groups providing connectivity between a number of economically dynamic cities and towns

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, and research and development in the Western Gateway region
  • Developing the Western Gateway
  • Key central government priorities for the Western Gateway:
    • Developing the South-West of England and South Wales as an economic region - fostering effective partnerships between central and local government
    • Promoting trade and inward investment and developing the Western Gateway’s international profile

Policy officials attending:

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

This conference is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from MHCLG; BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the Department for Transport; DCMS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Development Bank of Wales; HM Revenue & Customs; the Home Office; the Intellectual Property Office; the Office for Product Safety and Standards; Transport for Wales; the Welsh Government and the Welsh Revenue Authority.

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 Speaker

Stephen Jones

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

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

Katherine Bennett

Senior Vice President, Airbus and Chair, Western Gateway


Ruth Jones MP

Member, Welsh Affairs Committee

Richard Graham MP

Member, Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy


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

Councillor Craig Cheney

Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council

Andy Sellars

Strategic Development Director, CSA Catapult

Professor Steven West

Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Officer, University of the West of England