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Back the Great South West campaign: ‘beyond frustration’

  • by JW

“… after five years of ‘warm words’ – but no action on the region’s plans to become a beacon for the green economy.”


From the archives of the Futures Forum blog, March 2019:

The story of the ‘Back the South West’ campaign

Back in October 2016, the Western Morning News launched its ‘Back the South West’ campaign, just a few months after the Brexit process lumbered into inaction:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Back The South West

It has regularly relaunched the campaign:
Futures Forum: Tech Nation >>> “‘there’s more to the South West than cream teas and cowpats'”

Today there was another relaunch – of something which talks about ‘growth’ and whose main photo is of a motorway heading into the sunny uplands: 

Forget Brexit – it’s the day to #BackTheSouthWest

As Brexit turmoil continues to reign in the UK, we have seized to day to relaunch #BackTheSouthWest

With indecision thwarting today’s Brexit deadline, we say there’s never been a better time for the South West to be crystal clear about its future. What should have been a momentous day for the UK has been scuppered by delay and division. Politics as we know it has been turned upside down and the country’s growth agenda is at a standstill.

While the Brexit debacle slides on, the Western Morning News – in partnership with Pennon Group and support from LiveWest and Womble Bond Dickinson – is set to seize the day to launch the second phase of the #BackTheSouthWest campaign.

Futures Forum: The story of the ‘Back the South West’ campaign


One can be cynical in a time of net zero about the emphasis on ‘growth’ as summarised by road-building way back when – but there is almost a kind of desperation to ‘get the South West done’ after years of neglect and broken promises.

Here’s another piece on the campaign – form November 2017:

Futures Forum: The budget and “it’s the Cinderella South West yet again”


Today, the same message is being shouted again from a very frustrated South West.

The Western Morning News and Devon Live carry a very substantial piece – with the opening published below:

Dear Boris Johnson, the South West needs positive action not warm words

The Prime Minister has been asked to make good on years of promises to Back the Great South West. Economic leaders say they are beyond frustration after five years of ‘warm words’ but no action on the region’s plans to become a beacon for the green economy.

In an open letter to the PM, Bill Martin, publisher of the Western Morning News, who has spearheaded the #BackTheGreatSouthWest campaign along with co-founders Pennon, said that the region requires positive action after fulfilling its side of the bargain to come up with a clear business case that has brought together politicians, business leaders and academics.But he warns that the ‘unity will not hold’ without some progress.

Mr Martin writes in the letter: “The Great South West is a large and powerful economic entity that with the right support can become the cutting edge of your levelling up and net zero agenda.We have done all that was asked. I am writing today to ask for your support again in giving the Great South West the recognition and support that its unity and ambition require. We are a region that welcomes warm words, but desires positive action.”

The letter comes five years after the #BackTheGreatSouthWest campaign was launched with the region’s biggest private sector employer Pennon Plc.Since then, the Great South West Partnership has set out how it has the potential to become the ‘UK’s Natural Powerhouse’ in its Securing the Future prospectus that was taken to 10 Downing Street in 2019. The deal asked the Government for £2million over three years to progress its ambitions but nothing has yet come of it.

Steve Hindley, chairman of the Great South West Partnership, said: “For the first time, the Great South West has set out a challenging low-carbon vision for our region building on our strengths and key opportunities and we have an active All Party Parliamentary Group set up to support the Great South West. We have consistently had warm words from No 10 and other ministers and we want to get on and achieve the same status as the other ‘Powerhouse’ regions and move forward with our blue and green agenda. As Chair of the Great South West steering group, I am beyond frustration with the delay in obtaining formal recognition and associated funding.”

The delegation from the South West visited Downing Street in 2019 to deliver the prospectus and set out how it planned to deliver an era of transformational change with the backing of the Government’s levelling up pledge...

Dear Boris Johnson, the South West needs positive action not warm words – Devon Live

Open letter to Boris Johnson from the South West – Bill Martin – Devon Live

Back The South West – Devon Live