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Freeport bid looks to cement Cumbria as the heart of the UK

From Simon Fell, member of Parliament for Barrow and Furness 

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP), working with a wide range of partners, has submitted its bid for Cumbria to become one of the 10 new Freeports that government has committed to create across the UK.


The Heart of the UK Freeport Cumbria bid has been developed in partnership with three operators - Barrow Port, Carlisle Lake District Airport and the Port of Workington – and four Local Authorities - Allerdale Borough Council, Barrow Borough Council, Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council - making it a both multi-modal and multi-centre freeport. The bid has also secured the support of the four MPs - Simon Fell, Neil Hudson, Mark Jenkinson and John Stevenson, representing the constituencies that are most likely to benefit from the proposed Freeport.


The Heart of the UK Freeport looks to create greater economic benefits, jobs and supply chain opportunities from Cumbria’s existing global strengths in advanced manufacturing and clean energy generation.


Cumbria’s Freeport proposal provides a distinctive and attractive offer, being  a multi-centre and multi-modal proposal, which sits at the heart of the UK, sharing a land border with Scotland and sea borders with both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


Lord Inglewood, Chair of CLEP, said:


“I am delighted to confirm that Cumbria LEP has submitted its Heart of the UK Freeport Cumbria bid to government. This has been developed in strong partnership with the relevant operators and local authorities, as everybody recognises the important role that the Freeport could play in economy recovery and growth.


“The bid is focused on Cumbria’s unique location, literally at the heart of the UK and therefore crucial to UK connectivity. Our bid is novel and imaginative as it looks to tailor the benefits of a Freeport in a polycentric, rural and dispersed area rather than an urban, concentrated geography. It is also built on our existing global strengths and is therefore ambitious, as well as being realistic and deliverable.


“The Freeport would play an important part in delivering the priorities that we identified in Cumbria’s Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) and will fully support the delivery of ‘Restart, Reboot, Rethink’, our recovery plan for the economy. Importantly, it will help deliver the ‘levelling up’ agenda and CLEP’s inclusive growth priorities, given that the Freeport operations will be concentrated in areas that would really benefit from new job opportunities. Clearly, the Freeport would also secure Foreign Direct Investment and grow export and supply chain opportunities.”


Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council, said:


“Cumbria County Council is owner of the Port of Workington as well as the Local Transport Authority and would be the accountable body for a successful bid.I’m therefore very pleased and encouraged by the speed at which we’ve been able to work together with other relevant bodies to produce this ambitious proposal. The potential for Cumbria is plain to see and I hope that Government will recognise the imaginative nature of the bid, linking three key transport hubs, and give it its backing.”


Cllr Ann Thomson, Leader of Barrow Borough Council, said:


“Along with colleagues at the County Council, Allerdale Borough and Carlisle City Councils, we’ve worked hard to ensure that this multi-modal bid works for all and demonstrates true teamwork in action.The Furness area already boasts an enviable reputation in the field of clean energy production with one of the world’s largest operational offshore windfarms off our coast. The Freeport bid can only enhance that reputation.”


Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “I’m very pleased to see the way in which the private and public sectors in Cumbria have worked closely together to produce an innovative proposal that has the potential to spread benefit throughout the county.The Heart of the UK Freeport Cumbria bid could also greatly enhance the county’s growing reputation as a location for renewable energy production. The tax measures that come with freeport status will improve business viability and prove attractive to manufacturing and construction firms, particularly for example offshore wind developers.”

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