A high-powered summit held in Newport aimed at strengthening economic links to create a Super Severn region stretching from Swansea to Bath has been welcomed by commercial specialists at Bruton Knowles.
The Severn Bridge Growth Summit held on Monday brought together representatives from the UK and Welsh Governments together with input from business and city regions to encourage greater cooperation between Wales and South West England.
Team leaders from Bruton Knowles’ regional offices in Cardiff and Bristol first called for a ‘Shared Vision’ to create a cross-Severn economic partnership back in 2015. At the time, they pinpointed Severn Bridge tolls as the most immediate obstacle to greater cooperation.
Paul Matthews from the firm’s Bristol office said: “The Government’s decision to reduce and finally scrap tolls later this year has given new impetus to the debate and brought our ‘Shared Vision’ one step nearer.
“We completely support the objectives of the Summit and were encouraged to see it had attracted high calibre delegates with the clout to get things done.”
The Summit was told that abolition of tolls could benefit digital media businesses, tourism and TV production. Cardiff, Bristol and Bath Universities could work more closely together in order to compete with Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Bruton Knowles welcomed civic leaders’ efforts aimed at encouraging the Wales and West regions to work more closely together - creating a powerful regional bloc capable of challenging London, the South East and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
He said: “It’s clear civic leaders and business chiefs on both sides of the bridge share a vision of closer cooperation, working more closely together rather than try and score points off one another.”
Paul Matthews said traffic management remained a major obstacle to greater economic cooperation.
“Bristol’s economy is highly resilient despite relentlessly chronic traffic congestion. Reduction and removal of Severn Bridge tolls is already persuading businesses to look at opportunities across the Severn Bridge in addition to the city centre.
“It would appear businesses on Bristol’s northern fringe are best placed to benefit from the additional connectivity the reduction in tolls will bring, although the South Bristol Link Road creates a little more of a level playing field.”