“WE are seeing a new Industrial Revolution – and the North East is at the heart of it.”
George Osborne was predicting great things for the region’s drive to become a world leader in low-carbon technology, when he visited Wearside yesterday.
The Chancellor was at the Turbine Business Park, next to Nissan, to see progress on parts supplier Vantec’s massive new warehouse and announce a major extension of the North East Enterprise Zone, which offer incentives to attract firms working in the sector.
“The Enterprise Zone attracted this investment and will lead to lots of other opportunities in the area as well,” said Mr Osborne.
“We are right next to Nissan, where they are developing some of the most exciting vehicles in the world.
“This is a sustainable industry that is going to bring jobs to the area.”
He rejected suggestions the progress made on the low-carbon economy was the result of work by former regional development agency One NorthEast – axed by the Coalition Government – and predicted the new North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) would be a success in taking the industry forward.
“We all want to see more jobs and investment in the North East and I think the LEP have done a really impressive job,” he said.
“When I announced the decision to create the North East Enterprise Zone I said that if it was a success, I would consider the case for expanding it.
“What I’ve seen with my own eyes today at Vantec shows that it is a success.”
The North East LEP works with the Government, business and North East councils and is responsible for delivery of the region’s Enterprise Zone, which includes the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle sites next to the A19 in Sunderland and the River Tyne North Bank, including Swan Hunter and the Port of Tyne in North Tyneside, Neptune Yard in Newcastle and sites near of Blyth.
In response to Mr Osborne’s visit to Sunderland, Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “The announcement of new jobs at Vantec is another boost for Sunderland workers and the Chancellor’s decision to extend the enterprise zone owes a lot to the great work of the Local Enterprise Partnership and local councils.
“It should not, however, be forgotten that it was this Chancellor’s decision to close down One NorthEast and other regional development agencies, which has led to serious and continuing problems for the private sector in Sunderland and across the region, coupled with the loss of thousands of public sector jobs which has taken millions out of the local economy.
“So while yestderday’s news is welcome, the Chancellor needs to urgently spell out how he is going to drag the UK out of the double-dip recession he has created and provide opportunities to the rapidly growing number of young people in the North East who cannot find employment or training.”
VANTEC’S global boss visited Wearside to officially launch the new warehouse and confirmed the company is to create an extra 81 new jobs on top of the 230 already announced.
Takao Suzuki, CEO of Vantec’s parent company Hitachi Transport System, also filled in the first eye of a Japanese Daruma doll.
Traditionally, one of the doll’s eyes is filled in at the start of a project and the other on completion.
Mr Suzuki said the doll would serve as a reminder of the company’s aims.
“Although the work has started, we still need to accomplish our goal to maintain a high standard of customer service,” he added.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “You look at what has been achieved here in a few short months and it is phenomenal.”