A BID to create a “Great South West” which would aim to generate 190,000 jobs in 15 years has been welcomed in Dorset.

As previously reported, the strategy is aimed at creating a region on a par with the Northern Powerhouse and increasing the value of the South West’s economy by up to £45billion.

A partnership of councils, local economic partnerships and universities has called for:

  • Formal recognition and a single minister to link the region with government
  • £2million to develop a full business case over three years
  • Support for an “enhanced export and investment hub”
  • Recognition of a Great South West Tourism Zone
  • Agreement to create a “rural productivity zone”.

A prospectus says: “Our aspiration is for the government to recognise the Great South West as the latest business-led growth alliance to rebalance the UK economy, alongside the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine and the Western Gateway – and to work with us to plan and deliver the changes that we need.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Dorset Chamber is fully engaged with and supporting the Great South West, which is now really starting to gain momentum.

“We are also engaged with the Great South West as a part of the British Chambers of Commerce South West, a partnership of the five accredited chambers in the South West, providing a strong voice for businesses across the region.”

Cllr Vikki Slade, leader of BCP Council, said: “We welcome the potential this proposed investment could provide in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole along with other parts of the south west, plus the benefits of raising our profile with government to help towards formal recognition of the South West area as one of the leading economic areas in the UK.”

The prospectus notes Dorset as “one of the country’s leading centres for financial services” and says there are “significant opportunities for small port developments” in Poole and Portland.

It says the South West could become the UK’s first net zero carbon region, with a focus on the land-based “green economy” and the marine-based “blue economy”.

In its passage about climate change, it warns that a five metre rise in sea levels would affect Poole, Christchurch and Portland.

John Denham, former Labour MP for Southampton Itchen and Home Office minister, has been coordinating efforts to lobby for a Central South region, including the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area with Hampshire.

He said the Great South West idea need not detract from work across the county boundary.

“I think the important thing in all these conversations is to avoid making artificial boundaries too rigid,” he said.

“I can quite understand why they’ve come together, with everybody trying to make a strong case to the government for as much money as possible.”

He said there was no reason councils could not be involved in more than one regional partnership. “If it became a barrier to BCP doing stuff, that would be a problem, but I hope it won’t be,” he added.