No New Enterprise Zone For Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire

Despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron saying that the Government would ‘look favourably at any bids from the area for a Local Enterprise Zone’ during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April, this morning Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire woke to the news that it has missed on being granted a Local Enterprise Zone.

After the announcement of 11 Enterprise Zones in March it was announced that a second ‘competitive’ wave would be held in July. The 11 successful locations chosen from 29 applications for this second wave of Local Enterprise Zones announced this morning are

  • Alconbury Airfield in Cambridgeshire
  • Daresbury Science Campus in Runcorn
  • Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent & Enterprise West Essex in Harlow
  • Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Lowestoft in Suffolk
  • Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster
  • MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire
  • Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall
  • Northampton Waterside
  • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford
  • Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire
  • The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport
We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this; cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.

Too many of our towns and cities have been left behind, but the answer has never been to impose ineffective sprawling regional structures. It is local business and commerce that drive the private sector growth, jobs and wealth this country needs. This Government’s job is to foster local enterprise and create the conditions for businesses to thrive in. That is why low tax, low regulation Enterprise Zones are being planted across the country and will give businesses all the incentives they need to grow their local economy and create thousands of new local jobs.

The Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Enterprise Zone was to be based at Etruria Valley, with specialised sites at Keele University Science Park and the Hadleigh Business Park at Blythe Bridge.

It was hoped that the LEZ would have delivered up to 115 hectares of prime development land ready to go for business, with capacity to create up to 10,000 jobs by 2015.

The first wave of Enterprise Zones saw

  • Leeds
  • Sheffield
  • Liverpool
  • Greater Manchester
  • West of England
  • Tees Valley
  • North East
  • The Black Country
  • Derbyshire
  • Nottinghamshire
  • London

being given Local Enterprise Zone status.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April this year,

You are not missing out on an enterprise zone. There will be an enterprise zone within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area, and we will be advised by the LEP as to where it will go.

Reaction

The Government Enterprise Zones will be a ‘shot in the arm for the British economy’
We have lost out and have to go it alone regardless of Cameron promising there would be one for this area.

North Staffordshire needs jobs and investment. I supported the LEZ bid as did many others- from the Chamber of Commerce to the voluntary sector and lobbied all government ministers on this.

It had full cross party support including all MPs and Staffs County council all backing the Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid.

This government has abolished the regional development agencies but put nothing adequate in their place. It has gone back on its word for Stoke on Trent.

Eric Pickles says previous Enterprise Zones “set up a load of retail parks” – something which will not be seen with current set.
We are extremely disappointed at this news.

Stoke-on-Trent needs jobs and private investments as we made that clear in our application to Government and our recently announced Mandate for Change. We will endeavour with or without Government help to make Stoke-on-Trent a ‘great working city’ to shout the message on the regional, national and global market we are very much open for business.

Of course this is a huge blow for us but we are determined to succeed.

We will be urgently asking for more details and feedback on this decision and exploring if there are any further opportunities for future Enterprize Zones or any other similar Government initiatives.

However the Enterprize Zone on its own was never going to be the solution. We need investment and expansion from the private sector and we are working hard to make this happen.

So Cameron lied. We’ll just have to work harder 2 bring new business to Nth Staffs despite no EZ. SoT has great assets to promote
Everyone in North Staffordshire will be disappointed and somewhat astonished this morning to find that the promises of the Prime Minister just before the local elections have been abandoned; we are not getting the promised Enterprise Zone. It is all the more frustrating that this announcement has been made while Parliament is in recess and so I must wait a couple more weeks before I can try to question the Prime Minister on his reasons for this u-turn. Given his usual form, I don’t expect any sort of proper answer from Cameron.

While this is indeed a setback I know that our city and North Staffs have so much to offer businesses, from land and building availability to a fantastic workforce, with excellent road, rail, and air links into the bargain. I will continue to work with the City Council to approach potential businesses and of course support the Local Enterprise Partnership and North Staffs Chamber of Commerce in all our efforts to promote Stoke-on-Trent as the best place to come to set up businesses.

I am writing to the Business Secretary to see what other support government will make available but I think the message is a clear one – we must stand and fight alone, without the Tory-led government’s help. That means we must all now focus our efforts on singing the praises of Stoke-on-Trent and not allow anyone to talk down the area and those working to promote it.

We have a fight ahead but working together we can win and see North Staffordshire prosper.

Rob Flello MP

It is of course a huge disappointment that the government has let down Stoke on Trent. Despite the promises of manufacturing-led regeneration, David Cameron has decided to turn his back on one of the great industrial centres of Britain.

I was sceptical of the LEP going for a three site bid when the application would have been better focussed simply on the Etruria site.

This round looked like a party political fix, rather than a clear enterprise zone priority.

That said, when parliament reconvenes, together with the other Stoke-on-Trent MPs, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Vince Cable to understand their decision making process.

It really is beyond ridiculous to prioritise Oxfordshire and Hampshire above Stoke-on-Trent. But Stoke-on-Trent is bigger than this: we must create our own enterprise zone in the Etruria valley.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council to Post Spending Online

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has confirmed that it will publish its spending online by the end of this month [January].

The decision comes in the wake of Local Government and Communities Minister Eric Pickles criticism of authorities who had failed to meet the deadline of the start of 2011.

The coalition government have heaped praise on the 144 councils that had published their spending details on amounts over £500 but questioned what, council’s who had failed in their disclosure, had to hide.

No council will be legally forced to disclose the information.

Government Cuts Hit Stoke-on-Trent To The Tune Of £33 Million

The worst case scenario has been realised in the City of Stoke-on-Trent in the wake of the government’s announcement on the future funding of local authorities.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles implemented average cuts of 4.4% to local authorities but some have been hit by cuts of 8.9%, Stoke-on-Trent City Council being one of the hardest hit.

The council are now expected to cut up to 700 jobs as they struggle to cope with a cash reduction in the region of £21.6 million.

The council were already in the process of dealing with an £11million overspend.

The City Council have been planning for the worst case scenario for a time now and have held a series of consultation events to gauge public opinion on priority services and facilities.

Some political groups accused the ruling council coalition of over exaggerating the expected cut in government funding but it now seems that the Council Leader Mohammed Pervez and Chief Executive John van de Laarschot were accurate with their predictions.

Mr Pickles announcement yesterday has been described by senior politicians and political commentators alike as the worse in living memory.

Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP Given Green Light

Stoke-on-Trent City Council will join forces with neighbours Staffordshire County Council to form a Local Enterprise Partnership [LEP] following a government announcement today [Thursday].

The LEP will now be able to bid for some of the £1 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) which will encourage private sector investment.

The announcements form part of a White Paper on Local Growth published today, which sets out the Government’s new approach to rebalance the economy and drive sustainable growth by focusing on three key themes:

“¢ Shifting power to local communities and businesses – by establishing dynamic local enterprise partnerships of local business and civic leaders, operating within an area that makes economic sense, which can provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership to set local priorities and empower communities to fulfil their potential.

“¢ Increasing confidence to invest ““ by creating the right conditions for growth through a consistent and efficient framework for investment, an effective planning framework and new incentives to make sure local communities benefit from development.

“¢ Focused investment ““ by tackling barriers to growth that the market will not address itself and supporting investment that will have a long term impact on growth.

“I was delighted that so many of the proposals for local enterprise partnerships showed real imagination and initiative and a genuine desire to drive local economic growth. I am pleased to announce that we are asking 24 of these partnerships to set up their boards and get to work.

“The knowledge and expertise of the private sector, local authorities and their local communities will be crucial as we work to create a better environment for business and ensure that everyone has access to the opportunities that growth brings.

“The measures set out in today’s White Paper demonstrate the Coalition’s ambition to create a fairer and more balanced economy ““ one that is driven by private sector growth with business opportunities spread more evenly across the country and between industries.”

“Over the last decade, the country’s economy became skewed by artificial boundaries and top-down prescription that did not work. We want to create a fairer and more balanced economy driven by private sector strength, and our plan for local growth will create local enterprise partnerships, reform the planning system and introduce development incentives for local authorities, like allowing them to keep their business rates, so all parts of the country benefit.

“I am delighted that we can announce today the first 24 local enterprise partnerships to be given the go ahead. Our vision for local enterprise partnerships will help transform the economic geography of the country by creating a new local dynamism that will encourage economic growth and protect business with proper local accountability.”

The announcement has been welcomed both the leaders of both local authorities.

“This could not be better timing for our city and the county. We are facing significant challenges and competition to attract private sector investment. This is very much a giant step in the right direction.

“The LEP will bring together the strongest movers and shakers in the private sector along with representatives from the public sector to create a dynamic partnership that will deliver economic recovery for the county.
“We need investment to generate jobs and this announcement today will massively strengthen what we have to offer an investor interested in coming to Staffordshire.”

“This is fantastic news for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Business support has been absolutely key to the success of our LEP application.

“The application clearly laid out that economic regeneration will have entrepreneurship and private enterprise in the driving seat supported by local authorities and our academic sector.

“It was not straightforward and took imagination to develop. It recognised our unique position cementing five neighbouring LEPs lying between the three regions of the West Midlands, East Midlands and North West.

“We now have an opportunity to grow an economic recovery in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and develop a strong economy that is led by business, not led-by-the nose by a distant regional development agency.

“The new LEP will hold its first board meeting in Stafford on Monday November 1 where we intend to appoint a chairman from the business community and begin to prepare bids for RGF support.”

Pickled Politics Could Be Council Newspaper’s Undoing

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced proposals to tighten up the publicity rules for councils so they guard against campaigning with public funds today.

In recent years there has been a major growth in the frequency and scope of council publicity techniques that use taxpayers’ money whilst local papers have struggled in a saturated news environment.


“An independent local press is an essential part of our open democracy helping local people scrutinise and hold elected councillors to account.”

The new consultation proposes rules to stop municipal newspapers being published more than four times a year and to end the hiring of lobbying contractors. They also give more transparency and certainty to local authorities and political parties about conference stalls rules, for example, by distinguishing between the promotion of a local area for tourism purposes and the taxpayer-funded lobbying of politicians.


“The rules around council publicity have been too weak for too long allowing public money to be spent on frivolous town hall propaganda papers that have left many local newspapers looking over the abyss – weakening our free press – or to use ‘hired-gun’ lobbyists that operate in the shadows to bulldoze special interests through.

“The proposals I am publishing today will close off these inappropriate practices and make sure that councils focus taxpayers’ money on where it should be spent – protecting frontline services.”


“I agree with the Secretary of State that public money should not be used to fund lobbyists- Councillors should be the people fighting for their area and grabbing the attention of Westminster Politicians.

“Pickles, however, is well wide of the mark on Council publications. They provide a valuable service to residents and should complement traditional media rather than hindering it. They not only provide a medium for communicating messages to communities about their council but also help to make the whole council process open and transparent. Since it was first created in November 2007 the city council’s own publication Our City has been published 17 times and has provided valuable updates and information to every resident and business in the city. The publication is highly regarded and has received two awards and a further commendation in the last three years.””¬”ª

Norsheen Bhatti fighting Stoke Central for the Conservatives launches her website

Norsheen Bhatti, the recently selected Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke Central has today launched her campaigning website www.norsheen4stoke.com

 The website is also a chance for local people to get in touch with Norsheen to tell her about the issues that affect them and about their experiences of living in Stoke Central.

The City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association fully supports their prospective parliamentary candidate for Stoke Central, and has the complete backing of Association Chairman, Abi Brown, and also Ross Irving, Conservative Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The Conservative Party Chairman, Eric Pickles MP, has already enthusiastically endorsed Norsheen as someone who will make a great MP, and the Association are proud to have such a willing and enthusiastic campaigner join our team in engaging with the voters of Stoke-on-Trent.