Four bids for enterprise zone for Suffolk and Norfolk

FOUR bids have been placed on the table for an enterprise zone to be created in the region, which would bring a jobs boost to Norfolk and Suffolk.

The government’s enterprise zones aim to encourage growth through extra funding, tax breaks, super-fast broadband and a simplified planning system to make it easier for new companies to get up and running.

Eleven have already been named, but the government has said it will create 10 more and has invited local enterprise partnerships to pull together bids.

Bids have been tabled for zones in West Norfolk, Broadland, St Edmundsbury and a joint bid for one in Great Yarmouth and Suffolk.

But, after the government published the criteria for such zones, it was decided Norwich would not to submit a proposal, because it appeared the city did not tick the right boxes.

The Yarmouth/Lowestoft proposal has been put forward by the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance, a partnership which includes Norfolk and Suffolk County Council, Great Yarmouth and Waveney councils and the chambers of commerce, and which focuses on the potential of the two towns for energy production.

It will be up to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to decide which of the proposals to work up into a bid to go the government in the summer.

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Andy Wood, joint chairman of the New Anglia LEP, said: “We believe an enterprise zone could be a powerful tool in driving forward the economies of Norfolk and Suffolk.

“These locations will be independently evaluated to see which offers the best return for the two counties, so we can submit our expression of interest to the government at the end of the month.

“It is important to recognise that whichever site is chosen, the financial benefits of the zone will be spread right across Norfolk and Suffolk so all areas stand to gain.”

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “The anticipation is that most enterprise zones would be broadly 50 to 150 hectares and we just didn’t have anywhere with that sort of space in the city which was suitable.

“That means we are down to looking to what the other proposals are which could give us the biggest benefits.”

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, said: “We want to support the best bid which can help the whole area, because that’s how the revenue will be distributed over 25 years.”