Monmouthshire County Council and Powys County Council are set to confirm a ground-breaking agreement with neighbouring English authorities.
A proposed Marches Forward Partnership will see Powys work with Monmouthshire County Council, Shropshire County Council and Herefordshire County Council. They will join forces to apply for funding from government on major projects that will benefit their collective region.
Each authority will retain their own identity and independence. They will continue to deliver services to residents and businesses in the normal way but will work together, as partners, where there is mutual benefit and added value. Areas of cross border shared interests are likely to include transport, skills and housing alongside energy, climate change and digital connectivity – common issues for a population that totals more than 735,000.
It is anticipated that the councils’ planned collaboration and desire to work together will increase overall government investment, unlocking millions of pounds for identified initiatives that support the Marches’ rural economy and green growth.
Powys County Council Leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt said: “There is great potential if we can agree to work alongside colleagues in Monmouthshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire Councils.
“It reflects the geography of the area and at the same time acknowledges some of the commonalities between us. There has always been cross border support for one another, so this proposed partnership is a natural progression and fits comfortably with the priorities in our Corporate Improvement and Equalities Plan – Stronger Fairer Greener.
“We are already talking to government about what benefits our collaboration will bring and it is enthusiastic about the potential for the wider region.
“We are looking to sign up to an agreement that will confirm functional arrangements between the four councils in October. However, there is no cost implication or anything stopping us from working with other authorities and partners at any point now or in the future.
“It’s exciting and indeed groundbreaking for neighbouring authorities in Wales and England to be working together in this way. There are naturally strong ties between our nations, and this gives us an opportunity to build on our shared heritage and look ahead to the future. We hope we can break down the artificial cross border barriers that exist and together take control of some of the big issues that are important to so many people.”
Monmouthshire County Council’s Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby said:
“Monmouthshire County Council is pleased to be working with Local Authorities in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys in the Marches Forward Partnership. Its aim is to provide a forum to establish a joint working framework between these connected areas of Wales and England, working together to tackle cross border shared interests and boost investment into the region.”
“As neighbouring local authorities, we are bound together by a common purpose based on our rurality. We know there are significant flows of people between the Mid-Wales/English border in all areas, including healthcare, education, skill development, jobs and service provision. Many factors, including geographic convenience, drive the cross-border movement. We look forward to being part of the Marches Forward Partnership, focussing on key areas of shared interest and mutual benefit likely to include nature and climate adaptation, energy, transport and connectivity, housing, digital, economic regeneration, skills and innovation.”