Chancellor’s Fylde zone is ‘chance to invest’

The new enterprise zone already has international firms such as Victrex within its boundary
The new enterprise zone already has international firms such as Victrex within its boundary
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Creating a third enterprise zone for the Fylde coast has been welcomed but other measures in George Osborne’s spending review have been criticised in Blackpool.

Wyre Council said the millions of pounds to transform the former ICI Hillhouse site into a chemicals focussed enterprise zone would allow it to attract hi-tech industry.

Coun Peter Murphy, Cabinet member with responsibility for economic development at Wyre Council, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the borough and gives us a focus for attracting new businesses, reducing unemployment and driving forward growth.

“Wyre’s mantra is that we are business friendly and we look at everything we do from the viewpoint of attracting enterprise. This is a massive incentive to invest in Wyre and could potentially create thousands of jobs.

“Working alongside Blackpool Airport and BAE Enterprise Zones we now have the chance to make the Fylde coast as a whole a really great place for businesses to relocate and expand.”

Hillhouse landowner NPL Group’s chairman, Robert McFarlane, said: “We are delighted with the news which is vindication for the hard work put in to the bidding process by the Company and our partners Wyre Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

“This provides a tremendous boost to our comprehensive investment plans for employment, technology and energy development which can now be accelerated and will show the strength of our ambition and commitment to this site, the wider area and the Northern Powerhouse.”

Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace said: “Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has identified that an Enterprise Zone has the potential to create an additional 1,500 jobs and secure over £200m in private investment.

“With this in mind an Enterprise Zone at Hillhouse Business Park offers a fantastic opportunity for local as well as national growth.”

Meanwhile Fylde MP Mark Menzies has welcomed support for pensioners and the police in the Chancellor’s statement.

He said: “A rise in the basic state pension by £3.35 a week to £119.30, is the largest increase in 15 years. That means pensioners are now £1,125 a year better off than they were in 2010.

“Older people in this country have worked hard all their lives and deserve to be able to live with dignity and peace as they reach pension age.

On the U-turn on police force cuts , Mr Menzies said: I know the local constabulary in Lancashire has been extremely vocal in its opposition to cuts in police budgets and local MPs recently met the Policing Minister to raise our concerns. I am glad the Government has listened to us and protected frontline police services. This comes at the same time as vital investment in state-of-the-art mobile communications for emergency services, new technology at our borders, and a 30 per cent rise in the counter-terrorism budget.”

And he welcomed the reprieve for Tax Credits adding: “Families should also be helped by the largest ever investment in free childcare.

“That means funding 30 hours free for working families of three and four year olds from early 2017.”

But the £12bn promised cuts to the welfare budget and further austerity measures were criticised in Blackpool.

James Sorah from the Blackpool Against the Cuts organisation said the Government’s U-turn on Tax Credits, although welcome, would be only a temporary relief to low earning families as the change to Universal Credit would leave them worse off in a couple of years time.

He said: “The one thing the U-turns of Tax Credits and the Police cuts show is that ordinary people can make a difference. They are a tribute to people power. If people get involved and lobby their politicians, bad policy decisions can be overturned.

“He said allowing councils to raise council tax by two per cent to pay for social care was just a case of shifting blame to local authorities.

“Two per cent will not make much difference given all the other cuts we have seen by this Government. It leaves the responsibility on councils rather than central government.

“The ideological cuts are still continuing. We don’t believe it is about them balancing the books, as the national debt has never been higher than under them, it is about shrinking the state and redistributing wealth from the majority to a rich minority.”