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East Anglia Future 50

How Suffolk taxpayers' cash is helping pay for huge £40m Sproughton warehouse

PUBLISHED: 16:00 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 22 April 2019

The La Doria warehouse under construction in Sproughton  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The La Doria warehouse under construction in Sproughton Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

It is impossible to drive along the A14 and miss the giant looming silhouette of LDH La Doria's new £40m Sproughton warehouse as it begins to take shape.

But the building of state-of-the-art distribution centre on the edge of Ipswich was only made possible through £500,000 of taxpayers' money.

The money came from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP) Growing Business Fund (GBF) – which is designed to give firms across Norfolk and Suffolk a helping hand.

Since 2013, £20m has been dished out through the fund.

La Doria is a major international supermarket distributor with brands including Cook Italia, Mrs Ball's chutney and Bonduelle tinned vegetables.

With annual revenues exceeding £500m, it planned to build the distribution centre after outgrowing its current Felixstowe base.

The Italian firm settled on the former Sproughton sugar beet site and the LEP say its £500,000 grant was instrumental in securing the 30 new jobs the site is set to create.

A LEP spokesman said: “Without this investment, the company would have opted for another location outside our region.

“The company will also be paying business rates at its new Sproughton site.

“As Sproughton is one of the LEP's Enterprise Zones, a proportion of this will come to the LEP, meaning the grant will in time become cost neutral, and allow further investment on improved infrastructure at Sproughton.”

While the LEP's investment in Sproughton will bring positive rewards for the area it is one of only two Suffolk projects to feature in the top 10 GBF grants awarded since 2013.

The other being a £500,000 grant to the a new factory for AEGG Limited which will create around 50 new jobs.

Of the £5,148,535 distributed among the top 10, £4,148,535 or 81%, was allocated to Norfolk projects.

When questioned about the disparity the LEP, which is based in Norwich, said the disparity is down to more Norfolk businesses applying for GBF grant.

A LEP spokesman said: “The economic make-up of the two counties is that there are more smaller companies in Suffolk so the number of small grants is higher.

“The Growing Business Fund is of course only one funding stream. For example, Suffolk businesses have fared much better with applications to our Growing Places Fund, securing £9.8m compared to £4.7m in Norfolk.”

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