Lotus RGF announcement is a vote of confidence in Norfolk say MPs

The government's decision to support the Group Lotus regional growth fund bid was a vote of confidence in Norfolk, MPs said today.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg confirmed that Lotus which applied for a �10m loan to help kickstart a major manufacturing drive over the next decade, was one of 119 successful bids to receive government support.

The news has delighted the county's coalition MPs, but Labour Euro MP Richard Howitt warned that the funding disguised the fact that overall the region was getting a raw deal from government.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, who together with fellow MPs Simon Wright, George Freeman, and Norman Lamb, lobbied the government on the Lotus issue said: 'I am very pleased. It's a vote of confidence in Lotus and in Norfolk and it's the government putting its money where it's mouth is in terms of re-building the economy away from an overdependence on financial services.

'For a long time people have talked about the fact that we need to keep making things and Lotus is one of the country's premier manufacturing companies in terms of the quality of its technology and its export potential.

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'I hope its the first step in a series of exciting developments that could happen in the greater Norwich area. This is 800 extra jobs in the supply chain. We've also had the announcement of �26m for the Norwich Research Park and with the A11 dualling underway and broadband coming, we genuinely have the potential for creating a cluster effect of the kind seen in Cambridge.'

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: 'This is fantastic news for Norfolk. The global team they have got together at Lotus is phenomenal. The potential to buil hi-tech and jobs in advanced manufacturing in Norfolk is truly fantastic. Combined with the news on the A11 it's obviously a big boost for the county.'

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But Labour Euro MP Richard Howitt said today's announcement saw the Eastern Region come last again with only two bids accepted out of 34 bids made for the region.

'In the first round of bidding announced in April this year our region came very last with just one successful bid being chosen out of 23 bids submitted and even this successful bid was shared between the East and South East,' Mr Howitt said. 'Over the two rounds 169 projects have been successful with just three, E2V Chelmsford, Lotus in Norfolk and Luton Borough Council, from our Eastern Region having access to the �1.4bn cashpot.

'This is in sharp contrast with the North-East which saw 14 projects approved for the cash in the first round and forty nine announced today,' he added. 'While I welcome the fact that Luton, Lotus and E2V have been successful, overall the picture is bleak. This is the latest in a long line of kicks in the teeth for our region, out of 169 bids approved nationwide we have only had three!

'This Conservative Government axed our Eastern Regional Development Agency and now we are left with no-one batting for business in our region and we are losing out. We are consistently losing out on cash for jobs and growth and local businesses are being left to dangle in the wind. The RGF should be re-named the Regional Going-without Fund as here in the East we are seeing nothing but empty promises.'

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