This week, Ian Mean, Director of Business West Gloucestershire hosted an interesting Business and Economy Meeting focusing on the Tewkesbury Powerhouse.
It’s not often you hear the words ‘Tewkesbury’ and ‘powerhouse’ in the same sentence, but we should expect tremendous growth in Tewkesbury. It’s officially the fastest growing local authority outside London according to the ONS in 2019. Over the next 20 years, there could be more than 12,000 new jobs in the area!
Ian talks to the Tewkesbury and Gloucestershire Council plus 3 local businesses to hear their views on Tewkesbury’s future growth. The line-up of speakers included:• Ian Mean, Chair • Mike Dawson, CEO Tewkesbury District Council • Colin Chick, Executive Director of Economy, Environment & Infrastructure, Gloucestershire County Council • Rupert Cox, Managing Director, Stagecoach • Mark Lawton, General Manager, Moog Aircraft Group • Nicky Godding, Editor, Business & Innovation magazine
Mike Dawson sets the scene saying that Tewkesbury borough is a major driver for the success of Gloucestershire. Businesses and Local Authorities in this area are ambitious for growth. They are keen to deliver infrastructure for communities, schools and health, housing infrastructure funding, unlocking development through site access and obtaining £1bn funding for motorway junction improvements. The Growth Hub is located in the local authority building which allows them to work directly with businesses.
Colin Chick is 100% committed to making positive change and Gloucestershire County Council are using a multi-pronged approach to create better connectivity in the area. Tewkesbury is strategically placed geographically. In terms of infrastructure, the Council secured funding for M5, J10 through Homes England and is now working on the new J9 by the A46 which will become a new trans-Midland trade route.
They are making changes to bus connectivity and working on the Gloucester-Cheltenham cycle route. Work with Network Rail to create better routes plus the new metro service south of Tewkesbury will also come into play next year. They are committed to finding a way to deliver the growth in a sustainable way.
The BID for Fusion SW is going in on 24th March 2021. ‘Let’s make no mistake about this - to be the first place in the world to produce a fusion reactor that produces electricity that’s clean, green and safe – no carbon whatsoever and the by-products could not be better – they are helium and hydrogen’, says Colin. Nicky Godding did point out however that fusion hasn’t yet been achieved but the ambition is there.
There will be numerous new employment opportunities over the next 20 years across multiple business sectors in Tewkesbury. Cyber Park, GCHQ, science/technical parks, software companies, aerospace and numerous other industries are ready to take off post Covid-19 and in the years to come.
Rupert Cox, from Stagecoach believes buses will be essential to further enhance transport links and infrastructure. He discussed options for hydrogen and electric buses and referred to the government’s National bus strategy. More can be done to make bus services quicker and more efficient. They could deliver services to businesses too and they are open to doing tailored services for anyone.
Mark Lawton explained that Moog Aircraft employs around 350 people, Tewkesbury’s largest employer. Moog design and manufacture hydraulic server valves used for precision motor control and supply fuel control valves. Some employees also travel from the Midlands, Bristol, Cheltenham and Gloucester.
They are planning to build a new factory in Tewkesbury, starting in March 2021. It’s a great place to recruit highly skilled engineers and there’s a good workforce in the area. Moog Aircraft are committed to supporting apprentices and graduate schemes.
‘It’s a golden age for the county’, says Nicky Godding.
Tewkesbury is well-placed geographically and surrounded by an excellent business tech network in neighbouring counties which will feed into Tewkesbury. We need a broad-based vision for Gloucestershire to connect people and places. She said ‘What I’ve heard today has been really inspiring.
She thinks Tewkesbury needs to galvanise everybody now and to present itself and make as much hype in these key stages to influence those government funders and companies coming into the area.’ She urges businesses to use Business & Innovation Magazine and website and they’ll gladly report on successes and challenges.
The debate brought up more questions and ideas: could Tewkesbury become a centre of engineering excellence working closely with Universities? Can Tewkesbury build up creative industries? Can Tewkesbury invest further in skills and apprenticeships to retain young workers in the county? What is clear is that there is plenty of commitment, focus and a desire to collaborate to transform Tewkesbury as we know it.
Ian Mean summarises the event:
'I think the audience were genuinely surprised about the tremendous growth of Tewkesbury planned for the next 20 years—both in jobs and homes. It was great to have representation from the county council through Colin Chick who really did put the growth of the area and the infrastructure of the road system into perspective.'
He continued, 'Working with Business & Innovation magazine and its website was a good partnership to ensure we spread the message to business online and in print.'
You can watch a recording of the event below – an inspiring overview on Tewkesbury’s bright future.