Swindon is linking up towns and cities across the region to turbo-charge the south west’s economy with the creation of the Great Western Powerhouse.

The borough council has joined Swansea, Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire to create the group.

The aim is to increase investment, attract new businesses and jobs and grow the economy.

Borough council leader David Renard said: “Here in Swindon we’re very much driven by the private sector.

“But if we attract that private investment we can go to government and say we need public investment in infrastructure – new roads, improved rail links – to serve all that.

“Then that improved infrastructure attracts more private companies to the area – and it can become a virtuous circle.”

Swindon’s position on the M4 corridor – on the eastern edge of the Western Powerhouse and the western edge of the south east – means it is uniquely well-placed, Coun Renard believes.

He added: “We’re fortunate to have one of the best-performing local economies in the country, but we want to do even better.

“We already have fantastic connectivity, but we recognise the huge benefits that are to be gained from working more closely with our neighbours in the region so we make the most of any opportunities to improve our infrastructure and attract investment in the future.

“It would build on the links we are establishing with England’s Economic Heartland, which provides leadership on strategic infrastructure in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor.

“The powerhouses that have already been established elsewhere in the UK are predicting large increases to their economies and productivity levels and there is no reason we cannot do as well or better.

“Co-operation is clearly the way to go forward here, rather than towns and cities competing with each other. Potential investors will understand a region like the south west and Wales while they might not have heard of Swindon or Bristol.”

The next step after the launch is for all the local authorities in the powerhouse area, the Welsh government, local enterprise partnerships and Whitehall’s department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get together to agree a plan and timeframe, including branding for the entire region.

Co-operation with other areas appeals to Darren Brown, who works in insurance in Dorcan.

He said: “If you can centralise some of the costs, it might make things cheaper, because it’s more expensive to be here than up north. If it becomes cheaper you might be able to attract companies and investment.”

His colleague Rhiannon Hannah said: “We’re in a pretty good place here.

“There’s the M4 and M5, and A420 to Oxford and the A419. It would be good to bring more jobs in, and Swindon is well-placed to be central for both the south east and the south west.”

More jobs would be the key for finance worker Christine Leighfield who said: “It sounds like a good idea.

“What we need is to bring jobs here and keep them here.”

Swindon Labour group leader, councillor Jim Grant, said: “The Labour group will always welcome opportunities to work with other local authorities for mutual benefit whenever they arise. The case for a so-called Great Western Powerhouse will be read with interest.

“We need to consider how much benefit to Swindon there is when joining these groups. Swindon is already part of the England’s Economic Heartland Project, a collaboration with 11 local authorities to the east of Swindon. We are yet to see any benefits filter down with that.

“My concern would be that Swindon is joining these partnerships but we are on the outskirts of them and the challenge remains how Swindon can put itself at the forefront of these partnerships, integral to their success.”