Corby Council agrees to join regional growth board

Corby Cube
Corby Cube

Corby Council is set to join authorities from across Northants, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire to form an economic growth board and become part of the Government’s new ‘silicon valley’ vision between Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Councillors on the One Corby committee gave their backing last night (July 9) for the authority to create an alliance with 16 other local authorities from neighbouring counties to form the ‘Central Corridor Growth Board’.

The board will attempt to get funding grants for the collective, which sits in the middle of the Oxford - Milton Keynes - Cambridge corridor.

Each council will pay £5,000 a year towards the costs of running the growth board and the leader of each council will sit on the board.

Corby Council’s chief executive Norman Stronach last night endorsed the idea and presented a report which said: “This council has been actively engaging in discussions to establish a central area growth board across the corridor. The growth board will allow the area to speak with a single voice to Government.

“The alternative – to exclude ourselves from both the corridor and the growth deal – would be to potentially isolate the area, make unlikely the ability to draw down significant funding in the future and may not protect us from the impositions of new housing targets at the new time. The risks associated with increased housing numbers, on the basis of a deal similar to the Oxfordshire one, would appear to be manageable, and the council would not have to sign a deal if it did not feel it was advantageous to do so.”

Last November (2017) the Government unveiled its industrial strategy for the area between the Oxford and Cambridge shires, saying that it wanted the region surrounding the country’s two top universities to become the ‘UK’s silicon valley’ and a world leading centre of science, technology and innovation.

This followed an announcement in the autumn budget that  it would invest in a major housebuilding programme in the Cambridge-Milton-Keynes-Oxford corridor which will see one million new homes in the growth arc within the next 32 years. As part of this the Government has agreed an ambitious 13-year 100,000 housing deal with Oxfordshire.

Corby Cllr John McGhee, who represents the Kingswood ward, said he welcomed the plan but asked for a report to be put together that would show the value of being involved in the growth corridor.

The matter is expected go to the next full council meeting for approval.

Sarah Ward

Local Democracy Reporter