A bid for one of the Government’s new Investment Zones – which could accelerate business development and attract significant investment – has been submitted by councils in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire was selected as one of 38 top tier authority areas to go forward for further consideration for Investment Zone status, announced by the Chancellor last month.
The application covers two sites along the A50/A500 corridor, a critical strategic east/west route in Staffordshire. Potential investment sites could include Blyth Vale in Staffordshire Moorlands and Branston Locks near Burton. It has been submitted by the county council with full support of all eight district and borough councils through the Staffordshire Leaders Board, made up of all nine leaders.
The county council is supporting regional transport body Midlands Connect in its bid to Government to invest in a multi-million package of improvements along the route, helping to reduce congestion and boost growth.
Major investment along the corridor will help to accelerate the Midlands Engine ‘Hydrogen Technologies Valley’ concept, benefiting from regional clusters of expertise in hydrogen technologies.
While the county council is awaiting detail on how the new Investment Zones will operate, the Government’s intention is to include tax incentives to businesses to help accelerate development, job creation and attract investment.
The corridor includes world-class businesses driving the hydrogen technology revolution, including JCB, Toyota, Alstom and Rolls Royce.
Staffordshire County Council leader Alan White, who is also the chairman of the Staffordshire Leaders Board said:
“Major investment in the A50/A500 corridor will enable us to realise our ambition for the area to be a centre for innovation, design, manufacturing and export of hydrogen products.
“We already have the foundations with some of the world’s leading authorities on hydrogen energy, including Keele University and Nottingham University close by, which are already collaborating and acting as a pathfinder to secure further competitive advantage. The location’s connectivity is superb, linking the M6 to the M1.
“Our recently published A50/A500 prospectus showcases the scale of this opportunity. Through Investment Zone status, we have the chance to dramatically enhance the central role that the corridor already has in the Midlands and the UK economy, and the impact on local communities.
“However, we are clear that while Investment Zone status would be a great boost, our partnership remains committed to the delivery of improvements along the corridor to attract major investment and support job creation as one of our key strategic priorities. Our bid will allow us to raise the importance of the wider corridor with Government.”
East Staffordshire Borough Council leader and deputy chairman of the leaders board George Allen said:
“Our Investment Zone bid to Government is a collective submission drawing on the strengths we have across our county.
“There are numerous potential and worthy locations across Staffordshire, but we needed to make an informed and evidence-based decision as soon as possible which we know can be delivered in the required timescale.
“Our councils are committed to work together to make our case to Government and the private sector for additional investment, whether through Investment Zones or other mechanisms now and in the future.”
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council leader Paul Roberts said:
“We welcome this bid which, if successful, will be a real boost to this Moorlands development site and help bring forward the benefits it will offer communities and businesses both in our district and the wider county more quickly.
“That seeking investment in this corridor through this bid has been agreed by all the councils in Staffordshire really demonstrates the strength we have when we work together to deliver our shared ambitions for our region. We all remain committed to delivering our on our common priorities and making a difference for the people who live and work here.”