The Oxford to Cambridge Partnership has announced the appointment of Dipesh J Shah as its first independent chair.

The appointment comes after the Government, earlier this year indicated its support for a locally-led pan regional partnership, having previously failed to include any support for the Arc in its Levelling-Up White Paper.

The partnership brings together leaders from local councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the Arc Universities Group, and England’s Economic Heartland.

Its aims include finding opportunities for the region’s innovation-led economy while simultaneously protecting and improving the area’s environment. The group says its  ultimate goal is to secure a future in which all communities prosper from the very best in sustainable ways of living and working.  

Mr Shah will work closely with the new board, Dr Richard Hutchins, the newly appointed managing director.

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council and the partnership’s interim chair, said: “Dipesh Shah’s distinguished career and experience in the public and private sectors, as well as his passion for community development made him an ideal candidate for the role.

“Dipesh’s appointment marks a new chapter for regional collaboration for this area and I wish him and the Board the very best as we continue our efforts together to create positive change for our residents.”

Mr Shah said: “I am delighted to join the partnership as its first independent chair. The region is a hub of innovation. There is great ambition to propel its strengths to further stimulate the economy in a manner which benefits all communities, is sustainable and environmentally progressive.

“The partnership will meet this imperative by building on the collaborative endeavour across the region. I look forward to working with stakeholders and colleagues to advance the delivery of the partnership’s mission.”  

Cllr Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council and member of the chair appointment panel, said: “The appointment panel felt that Dipesh was the right candidate to be able to represent our area to government and to business and to help us to get the right kind of inward investment into much-needed infrastructure.

“It is important that the economic growth that is happening in our region is harnessed to the benefit of our local residents.”

Minister for Levelling Up Dehenna Davison offered her support for the appointment. She said: “Dipesh Shah brings a wealth of experience to the role to help communities in the region.

“This partnership will play an important role in growing the local economy and boosting opportunities for people, contributing towards levelling up across the country.”

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