Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bid for Launceston 'Enterprise Zone'

Launceston is bidding to become the venue for one of the Government's new 'Enterprise zones'. The zones - set up to encourage new businesses to start up in areas which have suffered in the downturn - have been announced by the Government. The first 11 venues were announced in the budget last month and a further 10 are being sought.

To qualify as an enterprise zone, an area has to be nominated by a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and fulfil a number of strict criteria. Cornwall now has an LEP and has confirmed that it will seek to nominate an area to become an Enterprise Zone.

Why Launceston?

East Cornwall has tended to miss out on direct government investment as most area-specific projects funded by Objective One, Convergence and RDA funding have been further west in the Duchy. Areas such as Camborne, Pool and Redruth had a good case to make for funding and have received lots. East Cornwall has an equally good case but has received very little. We also have the benefits in Launceston of excellent road links via the A30, being early in the delivery programme for Next Generation Broadband and having space to locate employment sites and the people to work in them.

North Cornwall is the most disadvantaged part of the Duchy when it comes to access to higher and further education and an Enterprise Zone would have the benefit of bringing educational and training opportunities as well as direct jobs.

This is an issue which has the support of councillors from across the Launceston area with my colleagues Adam Paynter and Sasha Gillard-Loft backing the bid as well as Conservative Phil Parsons and the Town Council.

Enterprise zones do not cover huge areas. The required size is just 50-150 hectares. Land to the west of Pennygillam Industrial Estate as well as to the south of the Link Road would be suitable (and there may well also be other sites around our town.

The matter now rests with Cornwall Council. They have confirmed they will be bidding and will select a site over the next few months to propose to the new LEP.

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