Budget 2015 brings good news for Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Airport

  • Work will begin immediately on setting out a masterplan in readiness for Blackpool Airport’s new enterprise zone
  • It will be up and running from January and could support up to 3,000 jobs over the next two decades
  • A second access to the existing Blackpool Business Park could also be built to ease congestion
  • Companies in the energy, aviation, training and food and drink sectors are among the potential new investors who could be attracted to the zone
  • It is hoped the move could act as a catalyst for the eventual return of holiday flights
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Chancellor George Osborne gives the green light for new enterprise zone masterplan.

Work will begin immediately on setting out a masterplan in readiness for Blackpool Airport’s new enterprise zone, which has now been confirmed by Chancellor George Osborne.

Blackpool Airport sign

Blackpool Airport sign

It will be up and running from January and could support up to 3,000 jobs over the next two decades.

Companies in the energy, aviation, training and food and drink sectors are among the potential new investors who could be attracted to the zone, which stretches from the railway line all the way to Queensway.

Development could see redundant industrial units on Squires Gate Lane which once housed Arvin Exhausts and B&M Bargains demolished to make way for new businesses.

A second access to the existing Blackpool Business Park could also be built to ease congestion.

We are not going to get Jet2 back overnight, but the full length of the runway will be protected and will continue to operate

And it is hoped the move could act as a catalyst for the eventual return of holiday flights.

Rob Green, head of enterprise and investment at the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company (BFWEDC), said: “It is important in enabling the restructuring of the aviation opportunities at the airport so they can be sustained in the long term.

“We are not going to get Jet2 back overnight, but the full length of the runway will be protected and will continue to operate.

“Companies may want to fly in cargo, and there is also a developing offshore business for example with wind turbines being built.

MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Eric Ollernshaw

MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Eric Ollernshaw

“There will be a lot of preparation in the next nine to 10 months, for example with surplus airport buildings that need to be cleared away.

“On the Squires Gate industrial estate there is almost a million square feet of empty space, including buildings formerly occupied by Arvin and B&M Bargains.

“Before we made the bid for an enterprise zone we were already talking to a number of companies who would be interested in accommodation in this area and the award of enterprise zone status will support us in these discussions.

“We also want to look at building a second access into the business park which currently gets congested at peak times.

“We will work with the private sector and develop a masterplan and a programme board.”

Lancashire already has enterprise zones at BAE Systems sites in Samlesbury and Warton, which have so far failed to attract the expected amount of new jobs.

But the Blackpool zone could do better because it already has strong infrastructure in place including links to the M55 motorway.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: “The road network is there and it will be most attractive to aviation related business.

“Plus it is already the main area for business activity in the town.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “When it first became apparent the airport was about to close last year, I met with the Chancellor to ask what the Government could do to support the site and ensure it remained a viable business, which was when we first discussed the enterprise zone idea.

“Since then we have discussed this on a number of occasions and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership was encouraged to look at this as part of its plans.

“It has been estimated this could establish new businesses with the creation of around 3,000 new jobs, which will encourage growth and connectivity for the wider area and secure the airport’s financial future.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “We need the enterprise zone, but we also need a more fundamental look at how our airports are supported across the board.”

Blackpool Council chief executive, Neil Jack, described the announcement as “tremendous news”.

He added: “It is a perfect place for investment and job creation.

“It has excellent transport links by road, rail and, of course, by air and now brings the benefits of an enterprise zone which, we hope, will help encourage businesses to invest.

“In turn, we’re working with local training providers and educational establishments to give our local workforce the skills they will need to seize these opportunities.”

Bev Robinson, chairman of BFWEDC, said: “The enterprise zone status creates an even greater incentive for businesses to choose to invest on the Fylde coast which in turn creates employment opportunities.

“The EDC will now be working with all interested parties in order to achieve the maximum possible benefit for the region.”

Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The site’s inclusion in the enterprise zone will support businesses in new sectors to grow alongside Blackpool’s existing industries, providing new jobs and a real boost to the local economy.”

The zone will be divided into two areas.

One will allow businesses to benefit from rate relief – the most common benefit locating a business on an Enterprise Zone brings – up to a maximum of £275,000 over a five year period for new businesses locating before May 2018.

The other will allow businesses to benefit from enhanced capital allowances for investment in fixed plant and machinery for businesses who take occupation by March 2020.

Companies already on the site will only qualify for any of the incentives if they create a significant number of new jobs.

‘Increase to minimum wage will be welcomed’

An increase to the minimum wage was a key part of the Budget for Fylde workers employed in low paid jobs.

But one campaigner said the increase in the adult rate by 20p an hour to £6.70 from October did not go far enough.

Dave Daley, North West chairman of licensees for the union Unite, said: “In Blackpool zero hours and the minimum wage are a problem.

“The increase to £6.70 is good but what we really need is the living wage of £7.85 an hour.

“There are thousands of workers in Blackpool on the minimum wage and that is really holding back the town.”

Mr Daley, who is landlord of The Castle on Central Drive, welcomed a cut in beer duties for the third year running with 1p off a pint.

But he added: “I just hope the companies pass it on to the pubs. Sometimes it just disappears and your beer stays the same price.”

The Chancellor also announced something for savers who were told from April next year the first £1,000 of interest earned on savings will be tax free.

Tobacco duty will rise by two per cent and fuel duty increases scheduled for September have been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Mike Hardaker, a director at Moore and Smalley accountants in Blackpool, said there was good news for businesses in the Budget.

He said: “The Chancellor revealed the annual investment allowance (AIA), which offers a 100 per cent tax deduction on any new capital expenditure up to £500,000, will be maintained at an attractive level, rather than dropping to £25,000 from the beginning of 2016.

“It’s disappointing we won’t get clarity on this until the autumn, but providing this does not fall too far, this is good news for businesses as it will continue to make it attractive to invest in growth opportunities.

“The news the annual tax return is to be abolished will be cheered by all those who are self-employed, providing the proposed HMRC individual online accounts can be introduced swiftly and smoothly.

“This is the third year running beer duty has been lowered which will benefit the hospitality and leisure sector on the Fylde.

“The region’s farmers will be allowed to average incomes for tax purposes over five years potentially reducing the tax paid.

“Workers, especially those on lower incomes, will welcome the proposed increase in the personal allowance, which goes up to £11,000 in 2017/2018.

“Petrol duty has been frozen and September’s planned increase in fuel duty has been scrapped.

“This is good news for commuters and businesses with heavy fuel use, such as hauliers and transport companies.”

MPs’ reaction..

Gordon Marsden

(Labour) Blackpool South:

“The increase in the minimum wage is less than our commitment to raise it to £8 by 2020.

“What is strange is that George Osborne made no mention of investment in the NHS or how it is going to be delivered.

“Seventy-five per cent of the cuts in local government funding have been in the North West including Blackpool, and we have around 400,000 working families in the North West who have had their tax credits cut in the last two to three years, so the idea he has been a friend to the north is belied.”

Paul Maynard

(Conservative) Blackpool North

and Cleveleys:

“It is good to see those on the lowest income are getting the most support in terms of increases in the minimum wage, and in particular in regard to increases for apprentices.

“My focus is on making sure the apprentices are paid that, and we are keen to see the adult rate reach £8.14 by 2020.

“The extra flexibility over ISAs will be really helpful for savers in the constituency who I know will feel hard done by by lower interest rates.”

Mark Menzies

(Conservative) Fylde:

“I was delighted to hear the North West has the fastest growing economy of any region in UK and the average family is £900 better off now than they were in 2010.

“It was obviously good news for business with corporation tax cut to 20 per cent and the news complicated and frustrating annual tax returns for self-employed people are to be abolished.

“Investors in Fylde have been hard hit by low interest rates throughout the recent financial crisis and so I was pleased to hear, from April, the first £1,000 interest on savings will be tax free.

“Fylde’s farmers will also be happy with the news their incomes will now be averaged out over five years for tax purposes, something for which they have campaigned for some time.”

Ben Wallace

(Conservative) Preston North

and Wyre:

“I think it was a good pro-work and pro-business budget, building on successes of growth in the economy, but ensuring we focus on dealing with our debt and investing in our local skills base.

“It is good for young people saving to buy their first house, good for savers of any age, and also what will be really good for our businesses is the next round of cuts for corporation tax and reward for investment.”