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Bolton Council Leader to Head Region’s Digital Transformation

The Leader of Bolton Council, Nick Peel, has been appointed a new role to work on drawing in the benefits of digital innovation to the borough, and to the rest of Greater Manchester.

Digitally transforming Bolton

Cllr Nick Peel has been appointed as Digital City-Region portfolio lead at Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). Under the Combined Authority structure, all ten council leaders take on a GMCA position in addition to their role in their own local authority.

Greater Manchester has the fastest-growing digital economy in Europe and continues to grow as a world leading digital city region. Inward investment into local tech firms has increased by more than 1000% annually since 2017 and over 69,000 digital and tech roles were advertised online last year, more than in any other sector.

Levelling up

Bolton Council’s focus on digital innovation relates to the Government’s wider levelling up agenda which is targeted at Northern parts of England. Under a recent plan unveiled by the Government to support communities and businesses in remote areas, particularly by improving access to wireless networks. In a document titled “unleashing rural opportunity” this program aims to unlock further growth in these regions by focusing on housing, communities and connectivity. It seeks to create jobs and drive economic development, including expanding internet access and increasing housing availability in rural communities.

Last month Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, launched a refreshed Digital Blueprint for the region. It was developed with stakeholders from across the digital sector, sharing a commitment to put people, environment, and place at the heart of the plans.

A number of initiatives are already in place as part of a bold ambition to make Greater Manchester a 100% digitally-enabled city region. Over 20,000 residents have been supported through the Greater Manchester Databank, over 4,000 young people received help with connectivity and devices through the Greater Manchester Tech Fund and a targeted digital support offer is available for care leavers.

With over £2bn being invested in new university facilities for innovation, science and technology, Greater Manchester was the only UK city listed in the Financial Times Large European Cities of the Future rankings.

Speaking after his appointment, Cllr Peel said: “There is already a great deal of momentum behind digital innovation in Greater Manchester, and as portfolio lead, I aim to keep up this good work.

“But this is not innovation for the sake of it. People, places and the environment remain at the heart of everything we do.

“Ultimately, we want to harness the power of digital to make Bolton, and all of Greater Manchester, a better place for our residents.

“That means increasing access to digital opportunities, creating new high-skilled jobs, and make Greater Manchester a greener, fairer and more prosperous city-region for everyone.”

Final thought

From the wider perspective of levelling up, supporting Bolton’s digital innovation is crucial to supporting people and the economy through ambitious plans.

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