Over the last two days, Cornwall Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have jointly staged Cornwall Expo 2015 at the Aero Hub, Newquay Airport. This showcase event has highlighted some of the key projects which are currently being delivered and to outline plans for the future.
The fact is Cornwall will see up to a billion pounds due to be invested in growing the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly over the next five years
The two-day event has been split into the economy on the first day and tourism on the second. I attended the first day and was mighty impressed with the set-up. There was a real buzz that Cornwall is going places.
Transport in Cornwall was one of the key themes on display, whether that was road, rail, plane or sea. With this key theme is was welcoming to see Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport stay for most of the day, which gave key players from the transport industry that are operating in Cornwall the chance to talk.
The Chief Executive of FirstGroup, Tim O’Toole talked about improvements to his companies rail franchise like offering free WiFi at all train stations in Cornwall within 6 months; solving the WiFi connection on the trains; and building new lounge facilities at the following three stations of Penzance, Truro and Paddington which will offer shower and changing facilities. On display at the event was Great Western Railways (formally First Great Western) new Night Riviera Sleeper Carriage which included carriage improvements to both first and standard class.
The was a strong message about Cornwall’s Devolution Deal and the £8m of Growth Deal funding awarded to the Council in March 2014. This money will help will help deliver new and refurbished vehicles and a network of smaller, more appropriately sized vehicles in Cornwall.
There is also plans for better Infrastructure with high quality and accessible interchange and waiting facilities improve the waiting experience and connections between services and Smart ticketing with contactless/cashless ticketing across bus, rail and ferry with a flexible range of projects better suited to the way we travel.
Other themes included:
Culture Zone: Cornwall’s creative industries employ 12,000 people and are worth £500 million to the local economy.
Cycling Zone: The case for investing in cycling is clear. For every pound invested in cycling in the UK in 2010 there was an economic benefit of £19.
A 10% increase in people cycling to work could save the Cornish economy £16.9m a year in Cornwall from NHS savings and reduced mortality. It could also save £4.7m from reduced traffic congestion and lower pollution levels.
Digital and Superfast Broadband Zone: This included the pioneering £132m superfast broadband partnership, funded by the EU, BT and Cornwall Council, and managed by Cornwall Development Company, has built a fibre based network that now covers 95% of premises, with nearly 90% able to connect with superfast speeds of over 24Mbps – making Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly some of the best connected places in the world.
Electric Vehicle Zone: Cornwall Council received £1 million in Government funding in 2013 to provide electric vehicle charging points across Cornwall.
The aim is to create a reliable charging network to allow drivers of electric vehicles to travel throughout Cornwall and encourage more people to consider owning an electric vehicle; helping to reduce vehicle noise and combat air pollution.
Employment and Skills Zone: This area included the LEP Employment and Skills strategy and sets out the priorities for developing the employment opportunities and the skills of our people, bringing together the needs of businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. One of the key principles is to provide great careers here by nurturing and developing the talents of our young people to gain the right skills and ensuring they have access to great career opportunities
Environment Zone: This zone encompassed Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership and Cornwall Sustainability Awards (CSA) with the overall focus being on Environmental Growth. Key facts include 80% of Cornwall’s land is in agricultural use – with just 5% of Cornwall’s land developed. There are 48,000 km of Cornish hedges. The South West Coast Path contributes £177m to the economy of Cornwall each year. And Surfing contributes around £153m to the Cornish economy each year.
Highways Zone: As well as working in partnership with Highways England and the Department of Transport to deliver strategic transport schemes, including improvements to the A30 and A38.
In the evening guest were treated to an excellent presentation by Richard Noble, the genius behind the UK’s attempt at breaking the land speed record (which we currently hold) and his teams plan to reach a speed of 1000 mph. The presentation was not just about the marvelous engineering feat that is Bloodhound, but how we must have more engineers, especially female, in the UK if we are going to be able to compete in the word of engineering and technology.
For me, it was a great event and you not only got to listen to some excellent speakers during the day, talk to those who are delivering improvements in Cornwall, and see what sort of investment Cornwall will see over the next five-years.
Huge credit must go to those who organised the two-day event. I certainly got a lot out of the event from my day there.