Sunderland Conservatives leader brands film studios funding request 'unreasonable'

"We do not think it is a priority"
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There are concrete proposals to create a major film studio in Sunderland.There are concrete proposals to create a major film studio in Sunderland.
There are concrete proposals to create a major film studio in Sunderland.

The leader of the Conservatives on Sunderland City Council has said it is "simply unreasonable" to ask for government cash to support the proposed Crown Works film studios in Pallion.

FulwellCain, the joint venture behind the plans, says the studios would create 8,500 new jobs and an annual £334million for the local economy.

Private backing of £450million has already been secured.

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However, the Government would need to provide up to £20million each year for 10 years for the plans to become reality.

There is considerable public, media and political support. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is being urged to announce financial backing in his budget on March 6.

Speaking in Sunderland in November, Mr Hunt himself said: "We have been having very good discussions with the people who are hoping to invest here.

"All I will say is, this year's California blockbuster Barbie was shot in Hertfordshire. Next time, let's have a Sunderland Barbie."

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But Cllr Antony Mullen said while he welcomes the proposals, the film industry should pay for the studios itself.

He said: "The Conservatives of course support any development that will bring jobs, prosperity and opportunities to the city.

"To have a specialist film studio in the city and one which will be the envy of the world, would be a huge asset.

"But the money to make this happen needs to come from private enterprise.

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"It is simply unreasonable to say that the Government should give a handout to private business when there is so clearly a need to spend public funds elsewhere.

"The film industry is not short of cash - it is a sector which generates tens of billions a year - and whilst we support this development going ahead, we do not think it is a priority for the March budget."

Julie Elliott MP, whose constituency includes the proposed site, is among those who take a very much opposing view.

“It is important that Government seizes the opportunity that the Crown Works Studios brings by backing the project with the funding it needs to progress," she said.

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Sunderland Lib Dem leader Cllr Paul Edgeworth has said: "Let’s hope that a united front from political parties, the local press and the business community across the region can convince the Government and the developers to strike a deal ahead of the budget on 6th March that will benefit Sunderland for decades to come.”

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