Grimsby 'leads the UK' with Town Deal 1.0 - Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 5 Jul 2018

NORTHERN Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has told how more funds could follow Grimsby’s £60 million Town Deal, as he joined Business Minister Lord Henley in signing off on the transformational long-term plan.

The enthusiastic minister told how the town is leading the nation, urging the civic leaders and private sector pioneers he sat down with to thrash out the package to seize the opportunity, as proposals to bring 8,800 new jobs and 10,000 new homes, as well as regenerating North East Lincolnshire’s core were laid out. 

Speaking as the ink dried on the formal documents, Mr Berry said: “Grimsby is very much part, and the heart of the Powerhouse, and you can see that from the commitment of Government today.

“It is the first such deal in the country and is really shaping the towns of the Northern Powerhouse and the rest of the UK. Where Greater Grimsby leads, the rest of the country will follow. The reason it is so exciting, and why what has been achieved today, is that we have hope and belief, that if it proves successful, it can be a blueprint for other towns and areas around the country.”

Grimsby MP Melanie Onn interviewed after the signing of the Greater Grimsby Town Deal. 

In what is a rare political step, the deal is not confined to a political term, with NELC leader Cllr Ray Oxby envisaging a transformation over 10 years, mindful of past promises - from Freshney Forest to the Immingham tram way. 

Read more: Greater Grimsby Town Deal is official - Ministers sign up for £60m investment

Mr Berry said: “The Town Deal is an inherently long term deal, and we are very, very confident. People have described false dawns before, there is a huge commitment with Government and the Council - £30 million each in total - and we have now a long term deal. I am absolutely confident in Great Grimsby to deliver. The Greater Grimsby Project Board is led by some of the UK’s best private sector businesses and I just think it will be a success, it is a proper bringing together of public and private sectors and not just because it is a good thing for the economy, but because we really see potential to raise aspirations of people in Grimsby. We talk about education in the deal, about more highly skilled jobs for people of Great Grimsby. 

“It is inherently a long term commitment. This is Town Deal 1.0. if we can prove this concept works to the people of Grimsby, to the private sector, if we can prove it to Lord Henley, then we are open to a discussion around a second phase for Grimsby. We really, really want to show the Government and the South of England, that if you give the tools needed to grow, they will make a success of it. 

“Come on Grimsby. You are not just doing it for Great Grimsby, not just for the North, but for England.”

The Greater Grimsby Town Deal is signed by Lord Henley, Ray Oxby and Jake Berry. 

Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, told how his office’s whole remit was involved.

“The energy part of it is the key here. This is the first Town Deal created as a result of the Industrial Strategy. It is very easy for a Liverpool or a Manchester – with all their resources – to put together these sort of deals. We want to put these out to other parts of the country, and I hope this can be a model for what a place can do.

“It is getting local authorities, local businesses, committed and with Government, working together.

“It is not a case of Government coming in and just handing out money, it is everyone working together, co-operating, putting a plan together with the businesses, with local authority and Government seeing this as what can be done.  We are looking at credible and realistic plans that we can take forward and see just what we can do together. This is just phase one. 

“I am looking forward to seeing a lot more plans, it is good there is a great future. With energy and renewables there is a lot happening, and from that I hope more opportunities come forward.

“It is great to recognise that in a place like Grimsby, a long way from London, difficult to get to, smaller than Liverpool and Manchester, can put forward plans to work with Government.”

The final signatory was North East Lincolnshire Council leader Ray Oxby, with Greater Grimsby Project Board chairman David Ross unable to attend.

For a man who has given his entire career to serving the borough, it was a proud moment to get it over the line, having cheered the pilot announcement in the Industrial Strategy. 

“It has been a lot of work to get to where we are, but the commitment from Government could be transformational for generations,” he said.

“This is Town Deal 1.0, and they want to work with us on 2.0 – this is a fantastic commitment.

“I have been involved as an officer, as a politician and as leader for over 40 years, and in this time there have been numerous plans with Yorkshire Forward and other regeneration bodies, but for me this is now going to happen because everything is stacked up, with all the right people in place and everyone on board. I am convinced that in 10 years’ time we won’t recognise this part of the town, and that by September we will have a major investor with public plans to redevelop Garth Lane, facing the water front rather than turning its back on it. The water is our asset and we need to exploit it.”

ABP, hosting the event at the port’s new Marine Operating Centre, is in talks as landowner with the local authority about the prime area that fronts Alexandra Dock and the new cinema site. 

“Government sees the vision, they see the planning, they see the co-operative partnership and it is about confidence,” Mr Oxby said. “We now have one of the best planning teams in the UK, it won an award last year, and businesses say it is a breath of fresh air. We want to deal with business, and we will do whatever we can to secure long term investment for businesses in the area.

“At the very heart of the deal is creating an environment where people can get a good education, good skilled training and well paid jobs, live in the area in good housing and spend money here.” 

Delighted by both the depth of discussion and the deal’s potential span – some elements stretch to 2032 – he added: “I was surprised, ministers tend to be cautious. I have never heard a minister so open and positive, and to be committed to do phase two, to talk about a phase three and a phase four of a Grimsby deal. It wasn’t prompted, he volunteered that himself. It is commitment to a long term plan."

Acknowledging the role the offshore wind industry is playing, Mr Oxby said: "It is a catalyst, it makes Government take note. Grimsby is the place where they see renewables bases - big international companies based in Grimsby.

"We have the likes of Young's too. They could have chosen Scotland to consolidate. They chose Grimsby because they have confidence in the area, confidence in the workforce and confidence in the council leadership."

Another leading figure proud of what has been achieved thus far was Rob Walsh, chief executive of NELC. With the signing followed by photo opportunity on a large balcony on the ABP building, with the immediate backdrop of the iconic Dock Tower and Orsted's £10 million offshore wind East Coast Hub, he said: "Where we are stood, and what we can see - the Dock Tower next door to Orsted's fabulous development - it symbolises what the Town Deal is about; celebrating our heritage and what's on offer around the Humber. It is the regeneration of the place, and the community sits at the heart of that.

"Regeneration takes a long time, We have the vision, the buy-in from the whole spectrum, public and private partners, and the next phase of discussions with officials and inward investors is intended to realise tangible work over the next 12 months. It is a very proud day." 

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