Jobs hope for Great Yarmouth enterprise zone

THE prospect of thousands of new jobs being created in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft through a new enterprise zone has taken a huge step forward after regional business chiefs pledged to make the case to government.

The board of New Anglia, the jobs partnership for Norfolk and Suffolk, which must make the submission to the government for an enterprise zone, gave the idea the thumbs-up ahead of four other proposals, for King’s Lynn, Norwich Research Park, the Broadland District Council area, and Bury St Edmunds.

Enterprise zones, which would offer a mix of tax breaks and cuts in red tape to attract new businesses, form part of the government’s flagship policy to kickstart growth and new jobs as well as re-balancing the economy away from an over reliance on the public sector and the City of London in favour of the private sector and manufacturing.

Businesses within enterprise zones will benefit from a cut in business rates, relaxed planning rules to encourage development, and the roll-out of superfast broadband. The Waveney/Yarmouth bid, which is still being worked up, would be based around the energy sector and linked activities including ports, logistics and engineering.

Supporters, including Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, believe a successful bid could help the area become a major player in the sector, and create more than 2,000 new jobs.

But with only 10 bids set to be approved by the government, competition to secure an enterprise zone is likely to be fierce, and the area has already lost out in bids for regional growth funding and cash to boost ports.

The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft enterprise zone would be spread across four sites in the two towns and focus on attracting new businesses and jobs in the energy sector and related industries. If successful, the zone could bring thousands of jobs to Norfolk and Suffolk, and would consolidate the area’s position as England’s energy region.

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Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “It’s brilliant to get selected by New Anglia. Once that bid formally goes in, it will be up to myself and my counterpart in Waveney Peter Aldous to lobby hard in favour of it.”

Ann Steward, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is hard to over-emphasise how important this is to both towns, and to the wider area. A Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone would put the towns into a difference league when it comes to business and employment growth, with thousands of new jobs across Norfolk and Suffolk.

“Gaining Enterprise Zone status would bring fresh impetus to the momentum that is already building in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft around renewable energy industries. Combine their east coast location with Enterprise Zone status and it starts to look like an unbeatable combination.”