AN announcement is “imminent” over the creation of a massive new £50m manufacturing park on South Tyneside’s border, which would bring with it more than 10,000 new jobs, it was revealed today.
The park – being hailed “as significant as the announcement 30 years ago that Nissan was coming to the North East” is earmarked for land to the north of the car factory, just off the A19, near West Boldon.
It is part of a ‘North East City Deal’ between South Tyneside and Sunderland City councils.
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said the development aims to deliver more than 10,000 jobs over the next 15 years.
It’s expected that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will make a formal announcement on the new park in the next few weeks.
The exact timing of that announcement will depend on Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson signing up to the creation of a new North East ‘super council’ – or combined authority – which will see seven authorities working together on job creation.
Mr Watson is refusing to sign on the dotted line until the new business park is given the formal go-ahead.
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said the specific location of the park and its size had “not yet been finalised”, but it is believed that part of the site will border the West Pastures in West Boldon.
Coun Malcolm said: “We are working in partnership with Sunderland to deliver a new advanced international manufacturing park to create over 10,000 jobs over the next 15 years. When that happens in the next few weeks, that decision will be as significant as the announcement 30 years ago that Nissan was coming to the North East.”
The plan comes a year after a bid for a Sunderland and ‘North East City Deal’, in partnership with South Tyneside Council, was formally granted.
The deal sets the two authorities free from many Whitehall controls.
At the time of last year’s announcement, Coun Malcolm said: “The City Deal represents an intention from Government to begin devolving funding and powers, away from London, to communities who know their local economies and where investments can be best made.
“The City Deal will be key in rebalancing the region’s economy by accelerating private sector growth, creating highly-skilled jobs in 21st century industries and helping the North East fulfil its vast economic potential, creating up to 16,000 jobs in advanced manufacturing over the long-term.”
Coun Watson is waiting for Government approval of a £25m investment package, which would be matched by the council, to be invested in the manufacturing park.
He says there is no danger that the combined authority – comprising of seven local authorities in the North East – will not come to fruition.
He said: “The plans are going ahead. It’s just that the North East is not part of the papers that have been laid before Parliament at this point.
“The Government is not ready yet to sign off the City Deal for Sunderland. That’s what is holding it up, but we are expecting it will be done within the next two weeks.
“We would expect the authority to come into force by April 1.”
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Any questions about how councils in an area collaborate, and with whom, are matters to be decided locally.
“Where combined authorities are proposed, the government will consider carefully all representations it receives about the proposals before deciding how to proceed.”