06 September 2012
A delegation from Wales, led by the local authorities of south west Wales, has visited a number of flagship projects in Cornwall this week to share information on the effective use of EU funding.
Both Cornwall and West Wales and the Valleys are classed as Convergence regions under EU Structural Fund rules and many of the regions’ areas, including south west Wales, share a number of similarities in terms of economic activity, employment levels and the need to expand their levels of economic enterprise.
EU funding remains vital for the Welsh economy and communities, and is worth around £3.3 billion of total investment between 2007 and 2013. With EU funding post-2013 still to be confirmed, the visit forms a part of Wales’ efforts to shape and maximise the use of any future EU funding for Wales.
The delegation visited a number of flagship Cornish projects including the well known visitor attraction and social enterprise, the Eden Project, as well as the Heartlands project which has transformed 7 hectares of former mining land into community space and restored heritage and business facilities. The group also visited Fifteen, a restaurant and social enterprise project launched by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, which recruits some of Cornwall’s most disadvantaged young people aged between 16 and 24.
Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries & European Programmes said:
“I am always keen to share our experiences and ideas. We share the same ambitions as Cornwall and there are important lessons that we can learn from each other when it comes to making the most of EU funding. These funds already make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy, supporting a range of initiatives from research and development, to helping people who have been out of work gain new skills and find employment.
I have already announced a review of how we deliver these programmes in Wales and announced our overall strategic approach and vision. I was pleased to have been given the opportunity to understand how regions in England are taking forward the same process.”
Councillor Christine Richards, Deputy Leader for Swansea said:
“EU Structural Funds are vital to the Welsh economy in the current economic climate. Our visit has allowed us to view a wide variety of projects and witness first hand the positive contribution that the public, private and third sectors can make to community regeneration projects. There are many similarities between south west Wales and Cornwall, and the strongest lesson has been how we must keep in mind just who we are delivering our regeneration projects for.
“Cornwall Council and their partners are working together with a shared vision and ambition. We need to re-evaluate the way we work together in south west Wales, and consider the relationships between local authorities, and also between local councils and their Welsh Government and private sector partners. We look forward to working with our Welsh Government colleagues in designing the next round of European programmes for Wales.”
Councillor David Lewis, Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning, Neath Port Talbot added:
“Education and the development of the skills base in Wales will be critical to economic recovery. The working visit was highly stimulating and our understanding of developing projects under a different funding regime has been strengthened considerably. We gained valuable insight into how another part of the UK has responded effectively to economic challenges similar to those we face in south west Wales.”
For more information contact: Stuart Hodges