Listen: All smiles as minister pledges a load of money

Witney Gazette: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, left, and county council leader Ian Hudspeth pictured on a visit to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Harwell research complex Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, left, and county council leader Ian Hudspeth pictured on a visit to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Harwell research complex

DEFENCE Secretary Philip Hammond visited Oxfordshire yesterday to seal a £108m grant for future growth in the county.

Government officials agreed to give the money to Oxfordshire to fund projects to help boost the county’s economy.

It includes £26m towards the Western Conveyance Channel to tackle flooding in and around Oxford, and a technology and innovation training centre working with City of Oxford College and Abingdon & Witney College to give Oxfordshire’s youngsters the right skills to succeed in high-tech industry.

Traffic improvements in Headington and around Harwell are also planned, while £9.5m has been allocated towards a new multi-storey car park at Didcot Parkway railway station.

Speaking at the Harwell research complex near Didcot, Mr Hammond said: “Clearly this has been a very strong bid from Oxfordshire.

“There is a very compelling logic to this bid. This is an area with huge growth potential, world-class businesses, world-class academic, science and technology institutions, plans for significant housing growth, and yet there are significant issues that need to be addressed around flood management, around road and transport infrastructure, access to the rail networks and so on – things that have to be done if we are going to get the maximum benefit from the investment that is planned in the area.”

It has been estimated that the funding could help create 5,700 jobs.

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