Imitation 'the sincerest form of flattery' as Grimsby and New Bedford sign MoA

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 3 May 2017

GRIMSBY has forged official links with New Bedford as America’s biggest fishing port seeks to embrace offshore wind.

A large delegation of influential representatives from the public and private sector has visited North East Lincolnshire from the Massachusetts city, with a Memorandum of Agreement of 'sister city status' signed between the two.

The US visitors are keen to learn how Grimsby became the poster child for offshore wind operations and maintenance for the UK, as it looks towards installing an initial 1,600 MW – roughly what Grimsby will control come 2018. 

Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Christina McGilligan-Fell, council leader Cllr Ray Oxby and chief executive Rob Walsh welcomed 24 officials from the eastern seaboard, including Mayor of City of New Bedford, Jon Mitchell, his chief of staff Neil Mello and Joseph Lopes, the city council president.

Speaking ahead of the signing of official documents, cementing the ‘special relationship,’ Mr Oxby said: “This visit is a symbol of our changing times; New Bedford is a fishing town that like Grimsby has seen the opportunity to grasp the future benefits of working with the offshore wind industry to generate better economic and social prospects for the local community.

“They have travelled a very long way and have chosen to partner with Grimsby because they see the work that we have undertaken as a port, and town, to work with the wind industry as a best practice exemplar. In this case imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Describing offshore wind as “only part of the story” and aware of an early morning visit to Grimsby Fish Market, Cllr Oxby said: “They met with other representatives from our seafood cluster and I hope they are excited about the potential for mutual benefit and growth.”

Dong Energy is another common factor, with the Danish giant opening an office in Boston, as the North American HQ. Tours of the Westermost Rough operations and maintenance facility and the equivalent for E.on’s Humber Gateway offshore wind farm were also taken, with HCF Catch and UTC Humber at Scunthorpe also visited. 

It is not the first visit from the State, or the US, with previous tours in September last year and March, leading up to this significant milestone.

SIGNING: The delegation look on as the agreement is forged in ink.

Picking up on Cllr Oxby's remarks, Mayor Mitchell said: “Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, and what a great place for us to imitate. Grimsby has such a rich, rich history in seafaring, and such a strong identity as a port.

“In New Bedford, we are taking the future in our own hands, just as Grimsby has done over the last couple of decades, and that’s the way the world is these days. We have to think big, be pro-active and aggressive, seize good ideas and share them where opportunities present themselves. If there is a place in the UK to be partnered with it is certainly Grimsby. We are pleased to be here.” 

As well as presenting the mayor and council leader with a written history of New Bedford and a commemorative pen, golf balls were also given, as the world-leading manufacturer Titleist is also based there. “We do golf balls as well as fish,” Mayor Mitchell joked. 

Some of the party are staying on in the region to attend Offshore Wind Connections, the Team Humber Marine Alliance annual conference taking place at Bridlington Spa this week.

ON THE TABLE: Two copies of the agreement laid out to sign. 

Mark O’Reilly, chairman and chief executive of THMA, said: “We have a real cross-section of delegates from business, asking a lot of questions about the workforce, skills, training and experience of how you develop supply chains. They are here to learn from us. 

“We have talked about what we did bringing people in from existing roles, maritime, ports, engineering, and bringing them under the umbrella. They are now in that religious phase, getting the believers on board.

“This is the first agreement signed, and Grimsby is leading the way in many respects, with existing connections with Bremerhaven (Germany) and now New Bedford. We are building a transatlantic bridge of offshore wind.”

IMITATION GAME: Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Christina MCGilligan-Fell, with council leader Ray Oxby and Mayor of The City of New Bedford, Jon Mitchell. 


Main image full caption: North East Lincolnshire Council leader Ray Oxby shakes hands with Mayor of The City of New Bedford, Jon Mitchell, watched by, Mayor of North East Lincolnshire Councillor Christina McGilligan-Fell and Joseph Lopes, City of New Bedford Council President, front right. Also pictured are, rear from left, Rob Walsh, chief executive of NELC, Mark O'Reilly, chief executive and chairman Team Humber Alliance, Councillor Peter Wheatley, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Skills and Housing, and Paul Vigeant, managing director New Bedford Wind Energy Centre. Picture: Jon Corken.

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