High profile announcements in the Chancellor’s Budget speech today (Wednesday 3 March) have been described as huge declarations of support for the borough by North East Lincolnshire Council.
News that the Humber is to be one of Britain’s newly-established Freeports, coupled with Grimsby receiving almost £21m through the Government’s Towns’ Fund were described as part of a “landmark day for the borough’s businesses and residents” by Council Leader Philip Jackson.
As part of the Humber zone bid, significant seed capital resources will be set aside to ensure the benefits of freeport status are felt across all four Humber local authority areas, including at the South Humber Industrial Investment Project (SHIIP) site between Grimsby and Immingham.
It should bring a huge economic boost to the region, with up to 7,000 jobs forecast as major manufacturing is attracted by key incentives. This includes a “unique approach” on planning, infrastructure, cheaper customs, favourable tariffs and lower taxes.
Welcoming the Freeport announcement, Cllr Jackson said: “As part of the bid consortium, we believed we had pulled together a compelling and transformational bid for supporting sites across the Humber to provide long-term opportunities for jobs and growth and we’re naturally delighted that Government agreed with us,” he added.
“This will help the area make the most of the global opportunities now opening up to Britain and I’m confident it will see even further investment, jobs and opportunities for the Humber to flourish.
“In North East Lincolnshire, it means that we’ll be able to maintain the innovation and momentum we’ve built up in recent years across some of our most important economic sites. It really is exciting news and we’re looking forward to working with partners to make the most of the benefits Freeport status will bring to the area.”
On the Towns Fund, news was also released in the Budget that Grimsby will benefit from additional money put forward as part of a bid last October.
As previously reported, Grimsby was a trailblazer for this initiative, having signed the Greater Grimsby Town Deal in 2018. The Towns Fund is designed to see targeted investment into areas that will help to get towns around the country back onto a ‘level playing field’ – providing a springboard for private investment and growth.
The seven projects put forward were taken from an overarching Grimsby Town Centre Masterplan and take account of the views of hundreds of local people and businesses. It takes a more in-depth look at what is required to reshape the town centre and considers the work already taking place at St James’ Square and Garth Lane.
In response to that announcement, Cllr Jackson said: “Whilst we’re waiting for the detail of the announcement, I’m delighted to hear that our Town Deal plans have been recognised in today’s budget.”
These announcements today come hot on the heels of the Future High Streets Fund bid for £17m, resubmitted to Government just last week, in which the Council and Freshney Place joined forces to bid to transform the western end of the shopping centre, creating a new market hall and areas for leisure use.
Cllr Jackson continued: “There’s real optimism for Grimsby’s future, and having a vibrant and enriched town centre that can serve the whole community is significantly important.”
“We are making a step change to how we build our local economy. Change is not just desirable, but critical to the future of the town as it recovers from the impacts of the Covid pandemic, this extra investment will be a vital tool in making the vision for our town a reality, helping to make it somewhere we’re all proud of.”