Northern Powerhouse Minister hails ‘vote of confidence’ in Sunderland

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton MP, centre, with David Land, Paul Woolston, Paul Varley and Paul Watson

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton MP, centre, with David Land, Paul Woolston, Paul Varley and Paul Watson

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A Government minister visited Wearside to herald the news that thousands of new jobs could be on their way to the area.

Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton MP was at the Future Technology Centre, near Nissan in Washington, as 10 new enterprise zones were announced for the area.

The new zoning is for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) that is being planned on land to the north of the Nissan car plant and for land at Port of Sunderland.

The IAMP is a joint venture between Sunderland and South Tyneside and plans to create more than 5,200 new jobs, 14,000 in the whole North East, and attract about £300million of investment.

At Port of Sunderland, the zoning is aimed to help attract investment and firms that can also benefit from its recently re-instated rail link.

Mr Wharton, who represents Stockton South, said: “I think the announcement that we’ve seen is a real vote of confidence for the economy of the North East and it’s a real boost to that economy.

“We are seeing a very significant enterprise zone expansion to create 14,000 jobs with big investment and big support.

“It shows that the North East’s case is being heard in Whitehall, in Westminster, and being delivered on.

“The economy of the North East, the fundamentals, are strong and we have had some difficult announcements in recent times, but there has been some good news as well, in particular the amazing work Nissan is doing.”

The IAMP development –the equivalent of 140 football pitches of new industry and business park – would house automotive, off-shore and other hi-tech businesses.

Coun Paul Watson, the leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The new Enterprise Zone status is a welcome boost and a welcome recognition from Government of the partnership between Sunderland and South Tyneside.

“The IMAP can play a key part in this region’s economic growth and in the country’s economic growth. It is a project of major national significance.

“Port of Sunderland, too, is growing and there is room and the potential for it to play a greater role regionally and nationally.”

Matthew Hunt, director of Port of Sunderland, said: “We have many significant commercial advantages with our estate, our facilities, our access to the country’s road network, and our updated link into the rail network. Ports have always played a major role in how the UK trades and Port of Sunderland is no exception.

“This new zone status can help unlock more of our export and import potential.”

Dan Martin, of Elm Electric Vehicles, which is based at the Future Technology Centre, said: “I think it’s brilliant and certainly what we need.

“We really so heavily on Nissan and the satellite companies that provide to them, so this is really exciting.”