Cash hope for North East film village

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How the centre could look
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BUSINESS chiefs say it could be lights, camera, action on a proposed media village in the North East.

The Echo reported last week that Easington MP Grahame Morris wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to ask for help with the multimillion-pound plans to create a Hollywood of the North in Dawdon after plans stalled because of the economic downturn.

If the plan turns into reality, the proposals would see film, television, music and animation studios to the site as well as an education campus and leisure facilities. It would also create almost 2,500 jobs.

After the Echo’s inquiry about the Mr Morris’s letter, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – which holds the purse strings – said the team behind the Centre of Creative Excellence could bid to win cash from the new Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

The £1.4billion fund was launched by the Government in October to create economic growth through private sector investment and create sustainable jobs.

A spokesman for the department said: “The deadline for the first round of bidding has now passed, but the second round will open later in the year.

“The fund is aimed in particular at helping those areas disproportionately affected by reductions in public spending make the transition to private sector-led growth and prosperity.”

Mr Morris, who told Mr Cameron the closure of regional development agency (RDA) One North East would affect the public funding of the scheme, has said would be encouraging the consortium to apply.

Durham County Council has also said it backs the move.

Mr Morris said: “I would strongly urge the Centre of Creative Excellence consortium to apply for funding through the Regional Growth Fund.

“However, the Regional Growth Fund is hugely over-subscribed and represents only one-third of the budget for regional development that was available prior to the election.

“The new arrangements are no substitute for the RDAs.

“The new Local Enterprise Partnership will have no start-up funding and we risk losing European match funding in the future.

“Along with local authority cuts and the abolition of Grants for Business Investment which supported 25,000 private sector jobs in the region, the prospect of a private sector recovery are being reduced.”

He added that he would be continuing to press the Government for help.

Sunderland University and East Durham College have said they remain involved in the plans, with Durham County Council also working alongside the consortium to offer support.