Shropshire Council set to sign groundbreaking cross border partnership
Shropshire Council is set to confirm a groundbreaking agreement with other English and Welsh councils at its Cabinet next week (Wednesday 6 September 2023).
A proposed Marches Forward Partnership would see Shropshire Council work with Herefordshire Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Powys County Council. They would join forces to apply for funding from the Government on major projects that will benefit the Marches region, which covers 80% of the English/Welsh borderland.
Each council would retain their own identity and independence and continue to deliver services to residents and businesses as they do now, but will work together, as partners, where there is mutual benefit and added value.
Areas of cross border shared interests are likely to include transport, skills and housing alongside energy, climate change and digital connectivity – common issues for the area’s population of almost 750,000.
It is anticipated that the councils’ planned collaboration and desire to work together will increase overall investment from the Government, unlocking millions of pounds for identified initiatives that support the Marches’ rural economy and green growth.
Lezley Picton, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:-
“There is great potential if we work alongside colleagues at Herefordshire Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Powys County Council. It reflects the geography of the historic Marches area while acknowledging our many shared interests and challenges. There has always been cross border support for one another, so this proposed partnership is a natural progression.
“We are already talking to the Government about what benefits our collaboration would bring and are enthusiastic about the potential for the wider region.
“We are looking to sign up to an agreement that would confirm functional arrangements between the four councils in October. There is no cost implication of the partnership, and it does not stop us from working with other authorities and partners at any point now or in the future.
“It’s exciting and indeed groundbreaking for neighbouring councils in England and Wales to be working together in this way. There are naturally strong ties between our two nations, and this gives us an opportunity to build on our shared heritage and look ahead to the future. We hope we can break down the artificial cross border barriers that exist.
“While the Romans, Normans and Plantagenets failed to unite this historic area, with these shared interests among these border councils, I am convinced we can together take control of some of the big issues that are important to so many people in the Marches.”
Shropshire Council, Herefordshire Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Powys County Council are working together to tackle cross border shared interests and boost investment into the region.
This is the first time neighbouring councils in England and Wales have proposed to work together. Government is enthusiastic about the planned collaboration which covers a population of more than 735,000 residents and an area of approximately 1,140,000 hectares.
Each council will be taking a report to their respective Cabinets. Shropshire and Monmouthshire will hold their cabinet meetings on Wednesday 6 September, Powys on 19 September and Herefordshire on 28 September.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the four councils is scheduled to take place during October.