Port regions should be prioritised in new Stronger Towns Fund

Responding to the announcement that the Government will allocate £1.6bn in funding to communities to help drive job creation and enterprise, the British Ports Association has suggested that port regions should be targeted to develop coastal economic clusters.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has today announced details of a new £1.6bn Stronger Towns Fund to ‘boost growth’ in deprived regions after Brexit. It will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity.

Commenting on the announcement the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne said: Ports play a vital economic role both nationally and regionally. They provide important hubs of activity, facilitating 95% of the UK’s international trade and providing over 100,000 jobs. Often UK ports are situated in deprived coastal regions and any funding which attempts to stimulate growth in those regions is welcome and needed.

The clusters around ports are ideal locations to invest in for sustained results as those areas typically have an established trade gateway or maritime hub that can provide the basis for jobs and development. We are continuing to push for port areas to be granted the status of ‘Port Development and Enterprise Zones’ to create new jobs and encourage infrastructure investment.

As well as business, planning and jobs stimulus, investment in regional transport links can drive economic change. Ports rely on good hinterland connections and communities can thrive with better commuter and business links.”

The £1.6bn Fund will be allocated in two ways; £1bn has been earmarked for direct allocation to English regions on a ‘needs based’ basis particularly in Northern England (see regional breakdown below) and £600m will be made available for communities in any part of the UK to bid for through a yet to be announced process.

Breakdown of the direct allocations:

■   North-west England: £281m

■   North-east England: £105m

■   Yorkshire and the Humber: £197m

■   West Midlands: £212m

■   East Midlands: £110m

■   South-west England: £33m

■   South-east England: £37m

■   East England: £25m

The Government has said communities would be able to draw up job-boosting plans for their town, with the support and advice of their Local Enterprise Partnerships.

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