MP vows to help north Northumberland firms benefit from funding

Julie Porksen and  Sir Alan Beith MP.
Julie Porksen and Sir Alan Beith MP.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) today agreed an historic Growth Deal with the Government which will see £289.3million invested in the region.

In the first year, £111.7million has been confirmed and, as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the North East LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £177.6million of funding from 2016/17 onwards.

The deal will help to create up to 4,000 jobs, and generate up to £120million in private and public-sector investment.

MP for Berwick, Sir Alan Beith, said: “This is a fantastic deal for the North East which will bring much-needed jobs and training opportunities to the region and strengthen our economy. To get this level of investment into our area is a real achievement and I will be working with businesses in north Northumberland to get as much benefit as possible for our area from these funding initiatives.”

The key features of the deal are:

• Investment in preparing land and business parks to encourage new companies to locate in the North East, creating jobs and wealth. For example, allowing companies involved in supplying Hitachi Rail Europe to locate close to its new facilities at Merchant Park, and a project to create rural enterprise hubs, providing flexible workspace for small businesses.

• An innovation programme – a package of projects to support technological advances in key industries, for example, the Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub, which will provide the first Fab Lab in the North East – incubation spaces for new businesses and workshop, office and laboratory space for growing manufacturing, creative and science-based businesses.

• A skills improvement package, supporting a range of projects to increase and improve the training available to local people in the skills which are important for growing local sectors, including advanced manufacturing, offshore wind and low-carbon energy technologies and other science-based industries.

Northumberland Liberal Democrat campaigner Julie Pörksen said: “The North East Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people and improve transport links across the region for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society. We’re placing the power and money in the hands of people in the North East who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities.”

Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East LEP, said: “Our economic plan ‘more and better jobs’ sets an ambitious vision for the North East, to transform the economy and create more and better jobs. We are delighted that government is supporting our proposals with such a significant investment.

“Our £289.3million Growth Deal endorses our approach providing investment for innovation, skills, business support, transport, developing our economic assets and supporting inclusive growth. It also sets out a clear commitment to work closely with us to bring forward proposals around improving educational attainment and a new investment fund.

“The deal will act as catalyst to lever in substantial private and public investment, creating thousands of jobs and providing sustainable and long-term growth. It marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the North East and I’m looking forward to working with our partners and government to make it happen”.