Green light for City Deal bid

Wed 20 February 2013, 5:50 pm

Reading's bid to win greater freedom from government control to boost employment skills in the area have cleared a crucial hurdle.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has approved the Reading and Central Berkshire bid for City Deal status, meaning that negotiations about the precise freedoms the area will need can take place over the coming months.

One of 20 City Deal bids given the green light to proceed this week, the Reading and Central Berkshire plan seeks to ensure that local people have the skills they need to access local job opportunities.

In particular, Reading wants to focus on skills related to construction, logistics, and “knowledge-intensive” professions, as well as ensuring that school leavers have soft “employability” skills that businesses need.

Clegg said the area would be given tools to power its own growth.

“These deals help cities and their wider areas make once in a generation changes that will be felt by everyone across their region,“ he said.

“We need to free up cities outside of London that have their own unique selling points.“

Minister for Cities Greg Clark said the City Deals were a “quiet revolution” in the way the nation was governed.

“Rather than London laying down the law, cities have the right to do things their way,” he said.

“The stories of their own futures will be as individual as their unique histories.“

Ministers will now work with Reading and Central Berkshire to work out the precise freedoms needed to enact its plan, with the aim of completing its deal within the next 12 months.

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