A partnership featuring Monmouthshire County Council has been moving forward at a fast pace.

Since its launch in November 2023, the Marches Forward Partnership has been working tirelessly to promote growth and prosperity within the English and Welsh border region.

This initiative takes its learnings from initial members and partners, some of whom were present at the inaugural event at Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury.

The four founding councils - Herefordshire, Monmouthshire County, Powys County and Shropshire, alongside partners including government representatives, business, farming and food producers, land managers, transport experts and environmentalists, assembled to kickstart the collaboration.

Together, they scrutinised four key themes to ensure a comprehensive contribution to the region: Nature, Energy & Climate Adaptation, Transport & Digital Connectivity, Health, Housing & Skills, and Food, Development & Visitor Economy.

Currently, the partnership with New Economic Foundation, a think-tank that aids in enhancing the growth and prosperity model of the Marches region.

This strategic association aims to promote data analysis and pave the way for fruitful conversations with the government departments in Cardiff and Westminster, driving effective cross-border working.

Cllr James Gibson-Watt, leader of Powys County Council said: "We all recognise the unique value of the Marches as the gateway between England and Wales.

"We cover over 80 per cent of the English/Welsh borderland with a population of more than 750,000 people and a sizeable rural economy."

Highlighting the challenges and potential of the region, he stated: "And although we appreciate the remarkable benefits of living and working in such a beautiful, rural region, we also understand that we're at a collective turning point with ever increasing demands for our services, expensive infrastructure and service provision.

"Together with the changing needs from an often ageing and sparse population and leading to lower levels of productivity and employment growth, there has never been a better time for a new strategic approach.

"We are ripe for sustainable growth."

Emphasising the spirit of cross-border collaboration, he said: "We believe there are significant economic benefits by us joining forces to work across parties, across counties and across borders for funding and investment from the UK and Welsh governments.

"We want to share our enthusiasm for what we're looking to achieve and demonstrate our unified approach."

Residents can find further insights on the partnership's work through their newly launched Marches Forward Partnership website, which will provide a highlights report of the members and partners event.