Wrexham and Flintshire announced as UK’s latest Investment Zone
Wrexham and Flintshire will become the UK’s latest Investment Zone, it has been announced.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed during the Autumn Statement that the the two counties’ bid had been successful – and he will be visiting tomorrow.
A cross-party group of politicians and business owners have been campaigning for a north east Wales Investment Zone.
The group includes Moneypenny, JCB, Airbus, Net World Sports, Theatr Clwyd, North Wales Business Council, Wrexham and Flintshire councils, Wrexham University and AMRC Cymru, and is chaired by Joanna Swash, Chair and Group CEO of Moneypenny.
Such zones already exist in some parts of England where £80 million in funding for each area will be used for innovation, infrastructure and skills and training projects in the sectors being targeted.
According to the UK Government, Investment Zones will help to drive economic growth that will be “transformational for towns and cities across the country” by creating jobs, delivering new homes and spreading opportunity.
They could also benefit from tax incentives over the next 10 years, such as reliefs on business rates, stamp duty land tax and employer national insurance contribution.
Investment Zones are open to all, however the government “will set a high bar for establishing them, honing in on areas where they will have the greatest impact on growth and housing supply.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, ‘…having listened to the Honourable Member for Wrexham and the Honourable Member for Clwyd South, I can announce a second Investment Zone in Wales in the fantastic region of Wrexham and Flintshire, which I will visit tomorrow.’
Wrexham’s Member of Parliament, Sarah Atherton MP, has explained her ‘active role’ in securing a successful outcome to Wrexham-Flintshire’s joint bid. Ms Atherton, who raised Wrexham’s bid in Parliament, initially led the call for local business leaders across the region to pitch for an Investment Zone, before meeting local authority representatives and other politicians at Moneypenny, in May, to propel the bid.
Initially, Ms Atherton proposed Wrexham as a suitable location for an Investment Zone to the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove MP and the Wales Secretary David TC Davies MP, for which she received positive feedback. Following this, she then turned to the Senedd Minister for North Wales who did not respond to her letter.
Sarah Atherton MP commented:
“This is fantastic news for Wrexham and I strongly welcome the UK Government’s announcement following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
“Since the Spring Statement, I have worked tirelessly to convince the UK Government of the merits of our bid. I have attended meetings both in the constituency with local businesses and organisations, in addition to politicians on a cross-party basis, and in Parliament, where I have extensively lobbied the Chancellor, the Levelling Up Secretary and the Welsh Secretary for their support.
“Wrexham has huge potential – we have one of the largest industrial estates in Europe, employing over 10,000 people, and a rich tapestry of businesses across numerous sectors. While the Welsh Government dragged its feet and were initially non-committal in offering its wholehearted support for Wrexham and Flintshire’s bid, we can now look forward, with great optimism, to seizing the benefits that this announcement will inevitably bring.
“Since my election, Wrexham has received over £56 million worth of funding from the UK Government, including the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (£22 million), the Towns Fund (£20 million) and the Levelling Up Fund (£13.3 million).
“Now, as an Investment Zone, Wrexham will benefit from better-paid jobs for local people, more opportunities and huge swathes of investment into our city. For too long, this corner of our country has been left behind under the Welsh Labour Government, but because of the UK Conservative Government’s commitment to Wrexham, our city is rapidly becoming the innovation and investment capital of North Wales, and a jewel in the crown of our United Kingdom.”
The joint bid for a north east Wales Investment Zone has also received the backing from Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething.
Speaking earlier this month Mr Gething said: “Based on the analysis of opportunities for growth our view is that there is a case for two Investment Zones in Wales, one in south east Wales, and one in north east Wales covering Flintshire and Wrexham.
“Each would reflect the specific strength and existing customers in each region which amongst others includes compound semiconductors in southeast Wales and high value advanced manufacturing in northeast Wales.
“The UK government will now need to decide whether to commit to this investment in Wales.”
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