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

TO BE PUBLISHED October 2020

***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.

The prospectus highlights innovation, connectivity, and a coordinated approach to international trade and investment, as emerging strategic priorities for the region - with claims that it has the potential to add more than £56bn to the UK economy by 2030 and to contribute to net-zero objectives.

It also outlines plans for a full vision document for the partnership to be released following the completion of an Independent Economic Review later in 2020.

Delegates will discuss the next steps for the Gateway in the context of these ambitions, the challenges and opportunities it offers, and what will be need to achieve its aims for 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
  • Paul Shand, Head of Trade, South West England, Department for International Trade
  • Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor, Bristol City Council
  • Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader, Cardiff Council
  • Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader, Newport City Council
  • Councillor Rob Stewart, Leader, Swansea 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 five 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, 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 - fostering 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 Western Gateway region

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 BEIS; MHCLG; the Cabinet Office; the Welsh Government; DCMS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; Transport for Wales; the Home Office; and the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

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

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Social Policy Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates