Plenty of political backing for growth fund cash bid
POLITICAL will to enhance the town's super cluster is there in container loads, leading figures representing Grimsby on local and national levels have said.
As reported, a bid for Regional Growth Fund support to the tune of £14 million has been submitted through the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP), with North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) seeking accountable body status.
Officials who have worked up the substantial application say it is supported with £61 million of private investment, with 970 jobs to be created should a panel chaired by Lord Heseltine and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg give it the go-ahead.
Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell is passionate about the seafood cluster, much of which this bid is based on.
He has "changed" his name to Austin Haddock and dressed as a fish finger to make his case in Westminster crystal clear in previous years.
Of the bid, Mr Mitchell said: "I give this proposal an enthusiastic welcome. Anything that capitalises on our Food Town cluster and that aspires to create much needed jobs for the area is welcome and I hope the Government will give its wholehearted support."
Future plans from some of the town's big hitters in the food manufacturing sector have been united together with general enhancing infrastructure projects.
"The likes of Morrisons' arrival and hotly anticipated Phase Two scheme, Young's Seafood Ltd's consolidation into Grimsby and Sealincs' new start operation in the former Mariner Foods factory, on Great Grimsby Business Park, have really put confidence back into the sector rocked by Kerry Group's decision to close the Europarc plant with the loss of 337 jobs.
Councillor Mick Burnett is the NELC representative on GLLEP. He said: "We will be doing all we can now to ensure we get this.
"Grimsby is the major food town and we are very keen to make sure we do whatever we can in the food and agri-food sector.
"This is what the LEP is about. It is a priority and if we can create jobs on this scale it will be fantastic."
LEP chairman Ursula Lidbetter, chief executive of Lincolnshire Co-operative, said: "We fully support and endorse this robust bid which has the potential to consolidate Lincolnshire's position as the UK's leading food county.
"The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership identified food production as a key sector from the outset and is working with local authorities to maximise the efforts and the opportunities presented.
"A key objective of the LEP is to create and develop the right conditions for business growth in the agri-food sector, which provides both large-scale and high-value employment across Greater Lincolnshire.
"The sector needs to be nurtured through difficult economic times with positive, carefully directed investment that will help generate the next phase of growth.
"This will ensure not only that the sector survives, but also that it retains and improves its strength and reputation.
"We hope for a positive response from Government later this year and will continue to lobby and support the bid as it goes though the submission and decision stages."