West Midlands MEP Dan Dalton has visited Stoke-on-Trent to add his voice to the city’s growing reputation as a resurgent force in international manufacturing and enterprise.
Mr Dalton has been wowed by the city’s progress in re-forging its sense of purpose and identity, with business self-confidence, unemployment falling at record speed and manufacturing growing fast.
The ex-professional cricketer has vowed to bat for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in Brussels and Strasbourg.
“This is a hard-working city which ticks all the boxes for me. It is ambitious and creative, with a great tradition of entrepreneurial energy and a really welcoming and friendly community,” he said.
“I have a great interest in enterprise, industry and tourism in the European Parliament. This is a great British city which has so much to offer on all fronts. And now it is a European City of Sport for 2016 too. It’s a very special place.”
The visit included a meeting with creative artists from the British Ceramic Biennial and B-Arts at the China Hall at Spode.
“This city’s heritage is a superb asset in its own right. There is a rich and unique architectural inheritance. The city’s special character, its place in history, should be cherished for future generations and will attract increasing numbers of visitors from across the world,” Mr Dalton added.
Mr Dalton also visited Lucideon to see how research and development is transforming the city into a European centre for advanced materials technology.
“The Government has recognised Stoke-on-Trent as a growth point for UK Plc and has backed the delivery of the nation’s first and only Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, along the A500 corridor in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.
“High profile backing for the Northern Gateway Development Zone partnership, plus the Chancellor’s commitment to ensure the city gains from HS2, show that this is a city with a resurgent reputation. It’s all coming together for Stoke-on-Trent,” he said.
Deputy council leader Abi Brown welcomed the MEP’s reflections on the future of the city.
“The city is making its mark in the corridors of power, in the market halls of international commerce and in homes and lives of people across the world. This is a city which has a fabulous tradition and the energy and capacity to play a significant role in the world. I am delighted Dan is on the team speaking up for Stoke-on-Trent,” she said.
The extra funding and investment available through the Ceramic Valley enterprise zone will help to expand the area’s advanced manufacturing sector, one of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshiire Local Enterprise Partnership’s top priorities for economic growth, and develop new technologies for engineering
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said Ceramic Valley would be great news for the local economy by driving business growth and creating more and better jobs for local residents.
“The Enterprise Zone will have a major positive impact for our area, not only in financial benefits to businesses and the LEP, but also in raising the profile of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire,” he said.
“An Enterprise Zone is a very strong marketing tool in attracting inward investment and strengthening our reputation nationally and internationally as a great location with a forward-looking, positive approach to innovation and growth.”
The Ceramic Valley scheme aims to create up to 9,000 jobs by developing mainly brownfield sites along the A500 corridor, including at Tunstall, Chatterley Valley, Etruria Valley, and Cliffe Vale.
The city’s research expertise, skills, supply chains and connectivity make Stoke-on-Trent a natural hub for advanced ceramics, and the rapid growth of a Ceramic Valley will enable the UK to compete with the growing technical ceramics sectors in the US, Germany and Italy. The scheme will help to speed up the diversification of the area’s key industry from pottery to technical ceramics.
Dan Dalton and Abi Brown are pictured by an industrial kiln at Lucideon, which can heat ceramics to 1,000 degrees.