Town needs promoting

A REGENERATION chief says it is vital the region promotes itself both “locally and internationally” in a bid to attract investment into the new enterprise zone.

In August, Hartlepool clinched a massive share of the Tees Valley’s 12-site enterprise zone after three different areas were approved by the Government.

The three areas are Queens Meadow, Port Estates and Oakesway.

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited, said foreign investment is the “lifeblood of the economy” and is vital to the region.

Speaking at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee, he said 70 of the 100 largest firms in Tees Valley are under foreign ownership.

Mr Catchpole added: “We are working with the councils and the landowners to maximise the sites to get the companies here.

“We need to promote more, not just for big foreign investors, but also locally.

“Part of the next phase is the promotion both locally and internationally.”

Mr Catchpole, who said the enterprise zone bid was among the most “innovative”, said: “It is one thing to win it and another to make it successful.

“We have to work really hard and we are working on technical details at the moment ahead of the enterprise zones going live from April 1.

“It is an intensive piece of work and Hartlepool has done well out of it.”

Mayor Stuart Drummond said he was “encouraged” by Mr Catchpole’s words and said both the council and neighbouring authorities had risen to the Government’s challenge.

But he said it was clear to him that there was “disconnection” at national level because council’s have to deal with several government departments at a time on one issue.

Mayor Drummond said he had recently written to Prime Minister David Cameron to express his concerns.

Mr Catchpole said that TVU had asked for one single point of contact from the Government regarding enterprise zones.

As previously reported, a Spanish wind turbine firm has announced it could be set to bring 800 new jobs to Hartlepool.

Spanish company Gamesa has revealed the town is battling it out with the Scottish city of Dundee to secure a new multi-million pound factory on port land.

A final decision is expected imminently and Mr Catchpole said it is important that areas compete for these deals on a “level playing field” when it comes to government incentives.

He said major contracts such as the Gamesa deal should be a commercial decision based on the site and skilled workforce.

Mr Catchpole said: “It would be tragic if we lost that purely because Scotland offers more money than England does at the moment.”

Bosses at Gamesa hope to have the factory up and running by next year with the first turbines being produced by 2013.