Conservative group leader endorses NELC's applications for Growth Funding
BIDS for a combined £36 million in government funding to bolster economic growth in North East Lincolnshire have been endorsed by the council's Conservative opposition.
Group leader Councillor Keith Brookes has written to Lord Heseltine expressing support for two applications submitted by North East Lincolnshire Council for round three Regional Growth Funding (RGF) – a decision on which is expected later this month.
As reported, the two bids have made it on to a shortlist of 278 – whittled down from 414 initial applications – being considered for a pot of £1 billion in funding.
They are being assessed by an independent panel chaired by Lord Heseltine, which will make its recommendations to ministers.
One application, submitted on behalf of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is bidding for £14 million to support food manufacturing, while the other, developed in partnership with the Humber LEP, is seeking £30 million to aid the development of the region's renewables sector.
Councillor Brookes has also written to business minister Michael Fallon in support of a £2 million bid by Vireol and its proposed bioethanol plant on Moody Lane in Grimsby – another application to have made it onto the shortlist.
Mr Brookes said it was important for the government to see that NELC's bids had local cross-party support.
He said: "Even though we are not in control of the council, the Conservative group wanted to show its support for schemes such as this which will help bring jobs and prosperity of the area.
"As councillors, we are all here for the same purpose – to do the best we can for the residents and the businesses of the area.
"And if these bids are successful and the investment happens, I believe North East Lincolnshire will be seen as a part of the UK that companies will want to do business in."
Vireol is in the later stages of pulling together funding for the £200 million bioethanol facility on the former Courtaulds site between Bluestar Fibres and Lenzing Fibers.
The project will create around 70 permanent jobs, with many more in the supply chain.
Gareth Jones, Vireol's commercial director, said: "We are through to the next round of the process which is great, and we have had the outline question and clarification session with the RGF team. It will now go through to the committee for a decision and we await that in the autumn.
"In terms of the council, they have been incredibly supportive and we are very grateful for that, because they have really done everything they can on our behalf."
Updating on the financing of the huge project, which will bring a huge boost to the contracting sector through construction, Mr Jones said: "We are waiting on the RGF decision while working on other streams of funding, concentrating all our efforts on that, to secure it and move forward to the next stage. We are well on with it."