Key figures delight as Greater Grimsby Town Deal pilot forms part of Industrial Strategy

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 28 Nov 2017

MILLIONS of pounds of Government cash looks set to be heading for Grimsby after the town’s ambitious transformation plans were granted pilot status.

The Greater Grimsby Town Deal, revealed earlier this year, has been included in the Industrial Strategy, launched by the Prime Minister and Business Secretary.

As reported this summer, it has laid out a proposition for an initial five-year investment plan securing up to £36.9 million of Westminster funding, to bring forward delivery of the key projects, with longer term aims of a potential further 5,400 jobs and 7,700 new homes.

It would be the springboard for a £216 million leap in economic output, “a step change to the economic contribution to UK Plc,” according to the submission.

Led by North East Lincolnshire Council and backed by influential town ‘sons’ David Ross and Norman Lamont, as well as senior civil service figures, it has propelled confidence in the area.

Now in black and white in the huge document released yesterday, it reads: “Towns should be able to demonstrate that they can work collaboratively with local business and civic leaders to develop innovative solutions and attract private investment.

“We are working with a range of local partners to explore new approaches, including on a pilot Town Deal with Grimsby.

“Grimsby is looking to a new economic future as it adapts to industrial change.

“There are strong prospects in the energy industry – the Port of Grimsby is increasingly seen as a destination of choice for offshore wind and operations maintenance (sic)– and in port-related logistics and manufacturing, chemicals/petrochemicals and food processing.

“The Greater Grimsby Partnership Board is developing a new approach to regeneration that will be taken forward by public and private sector partners to revitalise the town centre, increase skill levels and create new jobs and housing.”

The Greater Grimsby Project will build on the £20 million Riverhead Square cinema and restaurant development, with a sports and leisure plan for the recently bought Victoria Mills, as well as further land acquisitions to create improved residential, business and education opportunities, eventually stretching to the Kazbah on Grimsby Docks.

It is also working with landowner Associated British Ports on developing Garth Lane, a prime site in the town centre that has been left derelict for a decade.

TURNING HEADS: Ray Oxby explains the vision, and inset, Melanie Onn and David Ross. 

The proposals want to ensure that not only are jobs created, but a strong desire to live in the area too, while building training provision.

Mr Ross, chair of the partnership board, said: “News of the Town Deal being included in the Government’s Industrial Strategy is very encouraging and we look forward to continuing our discussions with Westminster and all the partners involved over the next few months to move our ambitions forward to the next stages.

“We believe these are exciting plans for Grimsby and the Government’s support for our approach shows they share the board’s aspirations of bringing the private and public sectors together to deliver real change for an area.’’

The council’s chief executive Rob Walsh met with Treasury officials yesterday, stating it was a positive meeting about the model and funding, with exact details anticipated as the work progresses.

Welcoming the go-ahead, Councillor Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “We pitched an ambitious plan to central government that showed them who we are and what we can do.

“Greater Grimsby has the capacity to accomplish so much more than it has and by bringing together key people with shared aspirations we can work with the community to build a prosperous future for our town.

“A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work to put us where we are today and my thanks goes to each and everyone one of them.

“Now the real work begins and we start a new era in the history of our area that will see the local community working with people from the public sector, from industry, from central government and others to grow Greater Grimsby and realise its full potential.

“The enormity of this announcement is potentially huge, not just for North East Lincolnshire but for other areas who I’m sure will be using our model as a way of building a new working relationship with central government.”

For the past year the local authority has worked with key figures in and around Whitehall, supported by Engie, ABP and Ørsted, formerly Dong Energy, as alluded to by Brent Cheshire when he retired as UK country chairman.

Dafydd Williams, head of communications on the Humber for ABP - a partner that is a key landowner and economic driver - said: “The Grimsby Town Deal is a fantastic example of how the public and private sector working together has the potential to transform the economic outlook for an area. It’s great that the Industrial Strategy has recognised this and ABP are looking forward to playing our part in bringing growth to the Port of Grimsby.”

Both North East Lincolnshire MPs have been praised for the support and advocacy.

Grimsby’s Melanie Onn said: “It’s fantastic to see Grimsby included. This reflects the huge amount of work done to get the Greater Grimsby project off the ground by securing the support it needs.

“There are no guarantees from the Government in this document, so there’s still lots to do to ensure the ambitious plans are followed through. However, this brings Grimsby closer to the kind of regeneration and investment that many of us in the town have been working towards for a long time.”

Read the full Industrial Strategy white paper here: Industrial Strategy white paper.

A House of Commons debate after the launch saw Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers on his feet, asking Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, to meet the project team.

With the ear of Government, Mr Vickers has worked with Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn (Labour) in a bid to push open doors for the proposal. 

He said: "I particularly welcome the commitment in the document to local industrial strategies, especially the reference on page 226 ‚Äčto the Greater Grimsby project board, of which I am a member. It is a private sector-led board. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is the best way forward for developing strategy, and will he commit to meeting the board in the not-too-distant future?"

Speaker John Bercow MP interjected stating he was not aware of Mr Vickers' "membership of that important board," before Mr Clark responded: "I was aware of it, and I am delighted that my hon. Friend asks this question.

"There is a big opportunity for Grimsby, Cleethorpes and the surrounding area to participate in the revival that this industrial strategy offers. The board, which involves the private sector and people with a big commitment to Grimsby and the area, is featured for the particular reason that its leadership is already achieving results, and we are very keen to push that forward."

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin was also on his feet, supporting the move for a sector deal on steel.

While this Industrial Strategy has been prepared the works has enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes under new ownership, bringing the British Steel brand back. 

He said: "I absolutely applaud the industrial strategy for saying that we need to build on our strengths. One of our great strengths is our foundation industries, such as steel. Will the Government get on with energetically pursuing a sector deal with the steel industry, so we can add it to the other four deals he announced today?"

Mr Clark said: "I will indeed. The Minister for Climate Change and Industry - there is no more energetic person than the Minister of State - met the steel sector today to pursue those discussions.

"The sector features in the White Paper published today and the hon. Gentleman knows that I agree with him on its importance. I am full of enthusiasm for that being brought to a conclusion."

Also rising, Diana Johnson, Hull North, Labour, asked: "To improve growth and prosperity in this country, we need to ensure fair transport investment in all parts of the country. I have just received a written ministerial answer showing that the disparity in investment between the south and the north has widened since 2012. What is the Secretary of State going to do to get the Department for Transport on board with his strategy?"

Mr Clark answered: "When the hon. Lady studies the White Paper in detail, she will see that one of the proposals is to look at the dynamic effect of investments - how a transport investment can transform the prospects of an area. That can be taken into account, we propose, in making transport decisions in the future, which will be of benefit to her constituents."

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