Norfolk misses out on �42m jobs boost

Norfolk has missed out on a jobs and cash injection after not a single bid from the county secured a penny of �450m worth of government investment.

Business leaders in Norfolk and Suffolk said it was 'a real disappointment' that the government had 'ignored' seven bids which would have pumped �42m into the local economy, including a bid from Hethel-based Group Lotus which would have created around 1,000 jobs.

The government today named 50 bids by companies and partnerships which will get funding through the Regional Growth Fund, but none of the bids submitted by the new New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) were successful.

Of the bids which were successful, just one was in the South East and East of England region, with the three from Norfolk and four from Suffolk missing out on cash.

Peter Barry, joint chairman of New Anglia LEP and managing director of Pasta Foods said: 'It is a real disappointment that the government have chosen to ignore the New Anglia bids for job creation and sustainable economic growth in our area where they will get a better return for their money in comparison to the continual financing in the north.

'Government needs to consider much more carefully where it can create growth in the quickest and most effective areas if it expects business to lead it out of recession. I think they have made a big mistake.'

The only successful bid in this region went to Chelmsford-based e2v technologies , where 427 jobs will be created and a further 361 indirectly.

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While not all the bids have been publicly revealed, two of the seven Norfolk and Suffolk bids which missed out were for cash for Hethel Engineering Centre and by Group Lotus to extend its facilities at Hethel.

Just last week the sports car company gained approval for plans to extend its production facility, but the company is hoping to secure �40m through the Regional Growth Fund cash. They did not want to comment at the time of going to press.

But the bulk of the cash is heading to the North East, the North West, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.

Thirty-five bids have been successful in those areas and the government says more than 27,000 jobs will be directly created and a further 100,000 through associated supply chains and local economies.

But there is still another chance for bids from Norfolk and Suffolk to be successful. Today sees the second round of bidding open, with nearly �1bn still up for grabs over the three year Regional Growth Fund scheme.

While deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg hailed the Regional Growth Fund announcement as helping to 'create and safeguard jobs in some of the communities worst hit by the economic downturn', Labour attacked the announcement as effectively cutting funding for regional growth.

John Denham MP, Labour's shadow business secretary, said: 'There are more losers than winners with today's announcement.'