Ministers hail enterprise zone success at Beacon Park, Gorleston
- Credit: James Bass
Ministers visiting businesses and construction sites on Gorleston's Beacon Park today hailed the spectacular progress of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (New Anglia) Enterprise Zone.
Local MP and communities minister Brandon Lewis took local growth minister Kris Hopkins on a tour of the energy-focused business park which has flourished in the two years it has been part of the enterprise zone.
They were shown around the offices of Hydra Rig, a parts manufacturer for the oil and gas industry, which moved on to the park at the end of last year to continue its rapid growth in the area.
And they were informed about a £5m contract success for Dutch-owned Venko Offshore which recently set up its first UK base on Yarmouth's South Denes, the second enterprise zone area in the town.
Operations manager Jason Grey said his firm, a specialist in refurbishing offshore platforms, had won the competitive tender against stiff competition to work on three around the Humber.
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He said the benefits of the enterprise zone, rates relief, simplified planning processes and superfast broadband, were not the only attraction. 'There is a good supply chain network. We use local companies and everything we need is here,' he said.
The ministers were told how the borough council is investing £8m to build more than 100,000sq ft of speculative floor space at Beacon Park and shown the route a new link road - funded by a £5m government grant - will take to connect Beacon Park to the A143 in Bradwell.
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They were shown around the workshops of Nexus, an engineering training centre, and spoke to students, including Ben Heanan, 16, who told them how he wants to become an instrument technician offshore.
Mark Pendlington, the new chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which created the enterprise zone to grow energy-related business, underlined the importance of the LEP working with a range of partners, including local councils.
'It would not happen without partnership. That is how the LEP is driving forward the local economy,' he said.
'In the last few weeks we have made a clarion call to government via our strategic economic plan that we will release our potential, seize the many opportunities for growth and create new jobs and build skills for the future.'
The visit of the ministers was an encouragement to that commitment, he added.
Mr Hopkins described the new Venko deal as 'great news for the enterprise zone and the local economy'.
He said: 'Brandon Lewis has been instrumental in pushing forward a very successful enterprise zone.
'Today we have learned about some huge ideas to expand the site and bring even more jobs to the town.
'It was inspiring to see so much construction under way and to meet the businesses and apprentices that are helping the enterprise zone to grow.'
Mr Lewis hailed the importance of the LEP in overcoming Norfolk/Suffolk divisions 'so we can all fight for a bigger piece of the pie'.