Minister visits new Enterprise Zone

Mr Menzies (left) with (left to right) Mark Prisk MP, County Coun Paul Rigby and BAE Systems' David Holmes

FYLDE MP Mark Menzies this week welcomed enterprise zones minister Mark Prisk MP to the Fylde for an update on the work being done to secure Fylde jobs for years to come.

The minister was at BAE Warton to talk to the team behind the Lancashire Enterprise Zone and hear about what is being done to support the creation of the new business park which will focus on the aeronautical and specialised engineering industries.

The enterprise zone is being set up on brownfield land at BAE Warton and at the firm’s site in Salmesbury with the project being spearheaded by the company, which is already at the forefront of engineering in the UK.

Enterprise zones were created by the Government to provide incubators for businesses to grow and thrive through state-of-the-art technology, top class transport links and tax breaks to promote expansion.

The meeting was attended by Fylde South county councillor Paul Rigby, who has also been instrumental in securing the business zone for the area, and representatives from county hall and Business, Innovation and Skills North West.

During the meeting, the host David Holmes, BAE’s director of investment and infrastructure services and manufacturing function, praised the work done by Mr Menzies to push through an enterprise zone for Lancashire “without which we probably wouldn’t be sat here today”.

Some of the topics on discussion were local infrastructure, including a new M55 link road to Warton and superfast broadband for the site, and apprenticeships to ensure a skilled local workforce was in place as jobs continue to be created by the project for 20 or 30 years to come.

The minister said he was extremely impressed by the work which was going on in the county towards making the zone a reality.

He added that he was keen to see the work progress as quickly as possible to ensure the county took advantage of the huge range of skills already available locally.

Commenting, Mr Menzies said: “As soon as enterprise zones became available I campaigned really hard to get one based here and was unsuccessful but when I was told that I was straight back on the phone to the minister to fight for Lancashire’s cause and we took a really good case to him so here we are today.

“The Warton Enterprise Zone is about taking advantage of what we already have on our doorstep, some of the best engineers in the world, and growing that to encourage more and more companies to set up in Fylde and bring with them more jobs.

“I’m aware of the fact that some people have been worried about all these new jobs meaning roads around the area will be inundated with cars so was pleased to hear the latest plans for infrastructure and the new road being created to link the M55 directly to this new zone.

“Governments have in the past been somewhat short sighted when looking at creating jobs but here we have a project which could continue to provide employment for years into the future.

“This is about securing highly skilled and well paid jobs for the next generation and that is something I think everybody will support.

“This isn’t a short term scheme but it is one we want to get started on as soon as possible.

“Where I grew up in Scotland we had one major employer at ICI and when that plant closed down  there was major unemployment in that area.

“BAE is massively important for Fylde but I want to make sure we have other advanced manufacturing employers operating here who can provide even more jobs in other aspects of the manufacturing industry.”

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