CAMBRIDGESHIRE aims to be out of the blocks of economic recovery first, before competitors have realised the worst is past.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE aims to be out of the blocks of economic recovery first, before competitors have realised the worst is past.

Greater Cambridge Partnership, which includes business, public and community sectors working in a strategic economic partnership, has issued an updated recovery plan to co-ordinate the area's activities as one of the key powerhouses of economic recovery.

GCP's Economic Upturn Action Plan, which focuses on support for businesses, aims to expand the world-class knowledge-based, low carbon economy that has been established in and around Cambridge, improve skills at all levels of the employment market, particularly among young people, support new businesses and develop sustainable infrastructure including rural broadband and upgrading the A14.

At the same time, comparable demands to Government to ignore the potential of the East of England at its peril have been delivered in a 100,000-signature petition to the Prime Minister from regional businesses.

GCP chairman Nigel Brown says in the action plan: "In the last 18 months we have witnessed a time of unprecedented global economic upheaval, with international credit shortages and reduced consumer confidence leading to economic contraction.

"Greater Cambridge, as a global trading economy, is not immune from these international trends and the symptoms of the recession are clearly evident, from increasing unemployment, particularly of younger people, to reduced output focused on sectors such as construction, retail and financial services."

He adds: "The recession is also impacting the north of Greater Cambridge disproportionately, thus reinforcing existing economic disparities. There is also uncertainty in the public sector due to the likelihood of future funding cuts linked to the indebtedness of the national economy.

"However, Greater Cambridge weathered the 1991 downturn relatively well and the predominance of knowledge intensive companies combined with a broad business base means we can do so again.

"Signs that the recession may be levelling off have also been detected and so now is the time to act, to be ahead of the competition, both locally and globally, and prepare the framework for the future prosperity of the communities in Greater Cambridge."

One of Mr Brown's strongly-favoured projects is the development of a traditional bank - the Cambridge Bank - to help finance sound business ventures at a time when the High Street banks have reduced lending or offered money on unaffordable terms.

That venture, though not yet in a position to call itself a bank, has attracted a variety of sources of capital and will shortly start lending, GCP's chief executive Martin Garratt told The Hunts Post this week.

The Downing Street initiative is backed by 100,000 companies across the East, including major companies such as Huntingdon-based Anglian Water Group. It includes a nine-priority 'Blueprint for Growth', urging the Prime Minister to help the region lead the UK out of recession.

INFORMATION: The Greater Cambridge Economic Upturn Action Plan is available at www.gcp.uk.net/downloads/UAP_0710.pdf. The blueprint created by the East of England Space for Ideas Group can be found at www.eastofengland.uk.com/blueprint