Enterprise zone boost for Yarmouth and Lowestoft

The prospect of creating thousands of new jobs in and around Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft through an enterprise zone has taken a huge step forward after regional business chiefs pledged to make the case to government.

The board of New Anglia, the jobs partnership for Norfolk and Suffolk, which must make the submission to the government for an enterprise zone, gave the idea the thumbs-up ahead of four other proposals; for King's Lynn, Norwich Research Park, the Broadland District Council area, and Bury St Edmunds.

Enterprise zones, which would offer a mix of tax breaks and cuts in red tape to attract new businesses, form part of the government's flagship policy to kickstart growth and new jobs as well as re-balancing the economy away from an over reliance on the public sector and the City of London in favour of the private sector and manufacturing.

Businesses within enterprise zones will benefit from a reduction in their business rates, a relaxation of planning rules to encourage development, and the roll-out of superfast broadband. The Yarmouth/Waveney bid, which is still being worked up, would be based around the energy sector and linked activities including ports, logistics and engineering.

Supporters, including MPs, Brandon Lewis and Peter Aldous, believe that a successful bid could tip the balance in favour of the area becoming a major in the sector both in Britain and beyond and help create more than 2,000 new jobs.

But with only 10 bids set to be approved by the government, competition to secure an enterprise zone is likely to be fierce, and the area has already lost out in bids for regional growth funding and cash to boost ports.

The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft enterprise zone would be spread across four sites in the two towns and focused on attracting new businesses and jobs in the energy sector and related industries. If successful, the zone could bring thousands of jobs to Norfolk and Suffolk, and would consolidate the area's position as England's energy region.

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Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: 'It's brilliant to get selected by New Anglia. Once that bid formally goes in, it will be up to myself and Peter Aldous to lobby hard in favour of it.

Mr Aldous said: 'It's good to get through to this stage, but we are now in a much more intensive competition across the country. One of the things the government will want us to do is demonstrate that our enterprise zone will bring the jobs to the area, that otherwise wouldn't have come.'

Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development, Norfolk County Council, said: 'It is hard to over-emphasise how important this is to both towns, and to the wider area. A Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone would put the towns into a difference league when it comes to business and employment growth, with thousands of new jobs across Norfolk and Suffolk.

'Gaining Enterprise Zone status would bring fresh impetus to the momentum that is already building in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft around renewable energy industries. Combine their east coast location with Enterprise Zone status and it starts to look like an unbeatable combination.

Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP and chief executive of Adnams, said he was impressed with the quality of the proposals put forward, but the board believed the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft bid offered the best chance of success.

'The proposals were independently assessed against the priorities of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership and the criteria being developed by the government to assess bids,' Mr Wood said. 'After careful consideration the board felt the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft proposal offers the best chance of success in what will be a tough competition for one of just 10 enterprise zones.

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