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Border is hindering growth and jobs; Peer makes claim.

Byline: MATTHEW GEORGE Parliamentary Correspondent

THE border between Wales and England is hampering efforts to boost jobs and growth on both sides, peers have been told.

Lord Thomas of Gresford, who is from Wrexham, suggested there was more co-operation among separate countries elsewhere in Europe.

Speaking in a special House of Lords debate on the Welsh economy, he said that a city region approach in Wales could deliver larger and more efficient labour markets.

There could be bigger potential markets for good and services, savings in transport cost and greater exchange of knowledge, ideas and innovation. But he said the two communities of Wrexham and Deeside alone would not have the critical mass, so Chester should be included.

"I concede that community identification would be an issue if one put Wrexham and Chester together - however, they are only 12 miles apart."

Lord Thomas said a sub-region including Chester would have a population of nearly 500,000.

He suggested the existence of the Wales/England border was a problem, as the region would need input from both the Assembly Government and Westminster.

But he pointed out Danish Copenhagen and Swedish Malmo combined to produce an economic entity that Co-operation Thomas of was very effective. And the same happened with Aachen, Maastricht and Liege, when three countries were involved, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

"We should not regard the border as something that prevents constructive economic development of the region," he warned.

call: Lord Gresford "In North East Wales and in Chester we face competition from the city regions that are being developed both in Manchester and Liverpool.

"Something needs to be done - and done soon - involving both the United Kingdom and Welsh Assembly Governments."

Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson said if economic co-operation could be done on an international basis, it could be done within the UK. There are important cross-border opportunities that we are committed to take forward with the Welsh Government."

Plaid Cymru peer Lord Wigley said Wales needed a system where the Government of Wales benefited from the economic success it achieved.


Co-operation call: Lord Thomas of Gresford
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 9, 2012
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