Local Enterprise Partnership secures further Growth Deal cash for Cambridgeshire

cambs07:40 Thursday 29th January 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: An extra £38 million of Government money is coming to Cambridgeshire. It’s been granted to the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, which helps promote the county’s economy. It will go towards building the Ely by-pass, improving the M11’s junction at Stansted Airport, and creating a new academy for civil engineering in Huntingdon. Neil Darwin is the Interim Chief Executive of the Enterprise Partnership. Morning Neil. Exactly how are you going to decide how this money is divvied up?
NEIL DARWIN: We’ve been working on that for quite some time. We’ve got a prioritised list, and as you’ve just read out, the ones that surfaced as being the most crucial are the ones that you’ve just mentioned. So we’ve been going through a rather long process with an extremely long list of projects from across the county, and those are the ones that we deem most necessary in the short term.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And how have you got hold of the money?
NEIL DARWIN: It’s though a process that the Government calls Growth Deals, and this is the second round. You may recall we had a round back last summer, where we received £70 million. And again, this is the second round of that process, with clearly a little less money nationally, but that fits where Government is at the moment. We’re very pleased to get our hands on what’s available.
DOTTY MCLEOD: A lot of these projects were going to happen anyway. I’m thinking of the Ely by-pass which has been decided. It will happen no matter what. So how much difference will this really make?
NEIL DARWIN: It’s simply the money. They have been decided. We know they’re necessary. But the missing link is always the money. So again we’ve been working with local partners, the county, the district, to ensure that we can get the money into some of these necessary improvements.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I’m remembering a story that we did last week Neil about the Fletton Parkway in Peterborough, where it’s going to cost £4 million more than the Council thought to complete that widening work. Is there going to be any spare coin for there?

NEIL DARWIN: I’m sure that’s a conversation we’ll be having with Peterborough City Council at some point in the near future.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK. How else is this money going to be invested? because it’s not all just transport, is it?
NEIL DARWIN: No. We’re pleased we’ve an element of funding going towards something we call the Growing Places fund, which simply is about having a flexible fund where we can support business directly. So if there are any businesses out there that are struggling to access finance, we will be in a position to be able to fund future growth in those businesses. So again obviously we urge anyone who is in that kind of position to have a conversation with us.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And that’s grants, not loans, or ..?
NEIL DARWIN: It can be both. It can be both. Clearly grants are more preferable. So we’re well aware of that.
DOTTY MCLEOD: (LAUGHS) Certainly for the businesses. Yes.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Absolutely. And tell me a bit about this highways and civil engineering academy that’s going to be based at Huntingdon.
NEIL DARWIN: Yes indeed. That’s a project that’s come forward from the West Anglia Training Association. It’s quite a simple one really, in as far as if you consider how much growth we are going to experience, not least surrounding the A14 improvements, the one thing we can be absolutely guaranteed of is there will be plenty of jobs around civil engineering and highways going forward. And we feel there’s a gap there, not only within the local area, but for a much bigger geography than our own. So we feel it could be a centre of excellence across the wider part of the country. So a very interesting proposal.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And I’ve been taking a look at the document that you sent out when this news was being announced. You reckon that this funding will help generate more than 15,000 new jobs. How do you work that out?
NEIL DARWIN: With a range of metrics. If you take the Ely Southern By-pass on its own, we estimate 4,500 new jobs around there, 3,000 new homes. That’s a range of calculations.
DOTTY MCLEOD: But where do the jobs come from?
NEIL DARWIN: It will be basically new jobs coming into the area, and retaining the old. It’s a mixture of the two. There are tried and tested formulae that reveal those numbers for us.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Sorry Neil, I may be being really stupid. How does building a road give you jobs, other than the jobs to build the road?
NEIL DARWIN: Because the road will open up into new industrial parks, new office spaces, new retail jobs. A range of things will be opened up because of the new road. There will be other opportunities that get created there.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK. I think I understand now. Neil Darwin there, who is the Interim Chief Executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, who have secured an extra £38 million of Government money for these projects in Cambridgeshire.