LEADERS of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal have defended plans to launch an economic strategy for south east Wales in London.

An industrial and economic growth plan by the City Deal economic growth partnership (EGP) will be officially unveiled during the Wales Week in London business event on February 28.

The move was questioned on social media last week by business figures and national politicians including Plaid Cymru AMs Leanne Wood and Rhun ap Iorweth.

Kellie Beirne, director of the City Deal, took to Twitter to say the document’s formal launch would take place at a regional cabinet meeting on Monday, February 18.

South Wales Argus: Kellie Beirne, programme director for the Cardiff Capital Region City DealKellie Beirne, programme director for the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal

Council leaders representing the £1.2 billion programme's 10 regional authorities met in Ystrad Mynach to fully endorse the EGP’s plan.

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The strategy highlights the region’s strengths and weaknesses, identifies skills required to benefit local businesses and provides infrastructure to improve digital and physical connectivity.

Councillor Huw Thomas, leader of Cardiff council, said “The point of unveiling the plan in London has been misunderstood by two Welsh Assembly members who perhaps don’t fully appreciate how the City Deal works.

“We are here to leverage investment from the private sector, and that is why I think it’s entirely appropriate that we try and pitch it as strongly as possible to the London market.”

Councillor Peter Fox, leader of Monmouthshire, described the London event as ‘key’ while his counterpart in Bridgend, Councillor Huw David, argued that it would be ‘irresponsible’ not to sell the City Deal to a wider audience.

Councillor Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport council, also endorsed the London launch and said it strengthened the idea that the City Deal was working with both Welsh and UK governments.

South Wales Argus: Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport councilDebbie Wilcox, leader of Newport council

“[Wales Week in London] couldn’t be a better launchpad for people to see what we’re about,” added Cllr Wilcox.

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Frank Holmes, chair of the EGP, said it was critical that the plan and the region has ‘visibility and influence’ outside of Wales and on a global stage.

“There has to be an emphasis on new regional investment being won competitively through the U.K. wide industrial strategy,” he said.

“Currently, Wales has low levels of representation in this space. We need to build profile and presence in positive ways.

Mr Iorweth, AM for Ynys Môn, later said he was ‘100 per cent behind’ the City Deal’s proposal to ‘take Wales’ ambition to the world’.

He tweeted: “Part of moving forward is taking ownership of our own ambitions and showing they come from within. Hence the negative response to London launch, I guess.”

The full plan can be viewed here.