Big boost for county’s business prospects

Somerset County Council has welcomed a big boost for business in Somerset and across the South West as part of yesterday’s Autumn Statement announcement.

The Chancellor confirmed £65.2m for the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) – the largest allocation to any one LEP in the country – as part of the Growth Deal expansion.

He also approved HotSW LEP’s bid to establish a multi-site Enterprise Zone at Huntspill Energy Park in Bridgwater to kick-start growth and productivity.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said: “This news confirms huge amounts of investment in Somerset and across the South West and shows what can be achieved through working together in partnership.

“In Somerset this means further funding for key schemes, like the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre in Bridgwater, superfast broadband in rural areas and vital improvements to the M5 Junction 25 at Taunton.

“These schemes will make a real difference by providing jobs, new homes and pumping millions of pounds into the local economy.”

Enterprise Zones (EZs) enable the local area to keep 100% of the growth in business rates over 25 years, to re-invest in infrastructure and growth generating projects. EZs attract business by offering discounted business rates and a simplified planning regime.

One of the proposed locations is Huntspill Energy Park, a single 90 hectare site on a former munitions facility owned by British Aerospace. EZ investment will help to secure growth in this sector and enable the construction of a new access road and remediation works.

Cllr Hall added: “We’ve worked closely with Sedgemoor District Council and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership on this bid and are delighted to hear that it has been successful.

“Enterprise Zone status will help enable the development of the Huntspill Energy Park into an important local employment site, securing supply chain investment linked to Hinkley Point C, as well as enabling business rate relief for small and medium sized enterprises.

“This announcement is great news for the local economy in Sedgemoor and across wider parts of Somerset and the South West.”