Enterprise zone plans given mixed reception

plans to restore enterprise zone status to North Tyneside have met with a mixed reception.

In last week’s Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that Tyneside would be one of 21 locations chosen to host an enterprise zone, with seven councils from Northumberland in the north down to Durham in the south working together to attract new business.

Mr Osborne, pictured, also revealed that Tyneside would be one of several locations offering businesses up to 100 per cent rate relief, superfast broadband and enhanced capital allowances to encourage investment.

North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley believes the proposals could help make the north east a European leader in offshore manufacturing and renewables, boosting existing plans to secure new investment for the north bank of the Tyne.

She said: “I am overjoyed that the government has listened to our request and is offering an enterprise zone for Tyneside.

“I believe the north bank of the Tyne is the ideal location.

“It could transform the area into one of the most attractive locations in Europe for offshore manufacturing and renewables development.

“The spin-offs are enormous in terms of jobs and economic growth, not just for North Tyneside, but for the whole region.

“The wider north east would provide the technology, support services, supply chain links and skilled labour, drawing on talent from local universities and colleges.”

Redevelopment plans for the 600-hectare swathe of land, from Walker in Newcastle east to the Port of Tyne in North Shields, have been under discussion since the closure of the Swan Hunter site in 2007.

North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon is unconvinced that enterprise zone status is the way forward, however.

The former North Tyneside councillor said: “The government says it wants enterprise zones to support real growth and long-term sustainability.

“Announcing an enterprise zone for Tyneside means very little for growth and sustainability, since the Department for Transport will not provide the much-needed funding to upgrade the A19 Silverlink junction, which is crucial for economic development along the A19 corridor and the north east region in general.”

Mrs Glindon said that without a full upgrade to the Silverlink junction, the benefits of the new Tyne Tunnel will be lost, and queues will be shifted further up the road to Silverlink.

She added: “In November, the North East Economic Forum made a case for the upgrade to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

“Business leaders explained how important transport infrastructure was to developing new businesses in the region.

“They made a very strong case for the importance of the road infrastructure, so how can the enterprise zone succeed if this issue is not resolved?”