Disappointment as trio of ports miss out on Government backing to bring in more cash and boost jobs
The leaders of North East ports which missed out on being awarded Freeport status have said it would have been a “once in a generation opportunity to transform the lives of millions”.
The Port of Tyne, Port of Sunderland and Port of Blyth submitted the bid to the Government earlier this year, putting forward the case it would support the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), a £400 million estate which will neighbour and strengthen the Nissan supply chain.
Sunderland and South Tyneside councils said the North East England Freeport would help level up the economy, create an estimated 60,000 jobs and safeguard UK supply chains, while port bosses argued it would help the region’s economy recover from the pandemic.
But the trio missed out, with the Government agreeing to award the status to other areas including Teesport, as part of today’s budget announcement.
In a statement from Matt Beeton, the chief executive officer of Port of Tyne, his counterpart in Blyth Martin Lawlor and Lucy Winskell OBE, the chief executive officer of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, they said the bid had been an “outstandingly strong contender and universally endorsed”.
They added: “After four years developing the bid, we are naturally disappointed by this decision.
"It was a once in a generation opportunity to transform the lives of millions of people.
“Our vision for North East England Freeport was extremely ambitious.
"We are immensely proud of what we have achieved and the collaboration shown points to a very bright future.
“Our region’s leaders came forward to demonstrate their public support for the bid and heads of over 40 organisations signed a personal letter to Rishi Sunak outlining why it was so vital.
"Today’s news was not what we had all hoped for, but we must show the resolve and tenacity the North East region is renowned for and find alternatives.”
They added the proposals included initiatives it will still look to implement, adding: “We will continue to promote our region’s industrial strengths and the target clusters of offshore wind, advanced manufacturing, automotive and digital innovation, using our world-class ports and manufacturing hubs by other means.”