Vince Cable - £10m government cash for Lotus “will help develop next generation of cars and create over 300 new jobs”

Work on the production line at Lotus Cars factory at Hethel.; Photo: Denise Bradley.

Work on the production line at Lotus Cars factory at Hethel.; Photo: Denise Bradley. - Credit: Archant © 2005

Long-awaited details of a £10.44 million deal struck between car maker Lotus and the government will be unveiled today, which will help secure the sports car manufacturer's future in Norfolk.

After months of negotiations, business secretary Vince Cable will return to the factory in Hethel, near Wymondham, where Lotus will set out its new business plan.

The luxury car group is expected to reveal that the money will be spent on developing new models of car and high-tech research and it will help create several hundred new jobs.

The tumultuous road for Lotus

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The regional growth fund loan - first awarded in 2011 - was put on ice after the motor firm's parent company Proton was sold and the dramatic departure of its chief executive.

Dr Cable, who was in Norwich at the weekend, said the announcement was a big boost for Norfolk and the Norwich area and would help in the development of new Lotus models.

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'Eighteen months ago there was a real worry about its viability and the parent company have put a lot of money in. It is 300 plus jobs in the sector and it is part of the success story of the British car industry, which is massively on the up. Last year in volume terms we were net exporters of cars for the first time ever.'

'The money is matching their investment and secures their position in this county, which is great news for the county as a whole.

'Lotus is an iconic British car maker, with some of the most innovative engineers in the business. The car industry is one of Britain's great success stories, employing over 130,000 people and helping to build a stronger economy by contributing £11 billion a year. The government's industrial strategy is working and giving business the confidence to invest, creating more high skilled, long term jobs in the UK.

'I am pleased to announce today that our flagship economic plan to create jobs outside of London - the Regional Growth Fund - is awarding Lotus a £10 million grant which will help them develop their next generation of cars and create over 300 new jobs in East Anglia.

'The government has already supported over 400 projects with £2.6 billion from the Regional Growth Fund, promoting growth in regions across England. The latest round is still open for another two weeks and I'd urge all businesses with a plan to support jobs in their local areas to apply.'

The multi-million pound pot had been earmarked for a scheme by former Lotus boss Dany Bahar to create five new sports car models – a plan Lotus said would create at least 1,000 jobs at its headquarters and another 800 in the supply chain.

It was hoped that the plan could be announced in May, but the process was delayed as the government, Lotus and their parent company DRB-Hicom fought out the finer details of the contract.

During a visit to the South Norfolk site, the business secretary will meet engineering apprentices and be given a tour of the factory.

Securing the Lotus deal has been seen as a very important for Dr Cable, who has made RGF funding a flagship policy - combining public sector spending with private investment.

It comes after Lotus announced that it was planning to create more than 100 new jobs in the wake of a £100m investment in the business in August.

It said at the time that sales were well up this year and the firm, which last year was forced to temporarily suspend production, is now making between 40 to 45 cars a week at its Hethel headquarters – with 85pc of its vehicles made for export.

The cabinet minister, who was in the region over the weekend, will also meet City College Norwich students and see the retail training suite facilities, before taking a helicopter tour to look at Bacton gas terminal, the Hewett and Leman gas fields,

Scroby sands wind farm and Great Yarmouth Port from the air. He will also visit engineering firm Milltech in Rackheath Industrial Estate.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said: 'The Regional Growth Fund is a helping hand from government to boost the economy and secure thousands of jobs.

'I've visited a number of projects across the country and seen first hand how the fund is supporting businesses that are working hard to fuel our recovery and help us build a stronger economy.

'I would encourage any businesses that can generate significant private sector investment and sustainable jobs to bid for a share of the £300 million available from the fund, which closes on December 9.'

Business Minister Michael Fallon added: 'Thanks to the Regional Growth Fund, many companies and SMEs are producing more, exporting more or hiring more skilled workers. To date we have already supported over 3,200 SMEs and £1 billion has been made available to SMEs through existing programmes.

'Whether it's a £1.2 million grant to help modernise Skanska's UK piling and foundation business in Doncaster or a £2.2 million grant for Magma Global in Portsmouth to help expand their production of carbon fibre pipes and create 100 jobs – the Regional Growth Fund is playing a pivotal role in supporting business and enterprise.

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