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Multi-million pound Budget boost for Norwich

Norwich Research Park is helping to fuel the growth in business start-ups in South Norfolk

Norwich Research Park is helping to fuel the growth in business start-ups in South Norfolk

Norwich emerged as a big winner in the Budget, with a surprise £26m windfall for the city's science park today hailed by MPs as "great news".

Chancellor George Osborne yesterday revealed that Norwich Research Park at Colney would share in a £100m pot to boost science.

And Norwich MPs Chloe Smith and Simon Wright said that money would help create 5,000 new jobs over the next 15 years - a tremendous shot in the arm for the city’s economy.

Although Norwich was not named as one of the first 10 enterprise zones - areas where businesses benefit from discounted rates and superfast broadband - the MPs and business bosses pledged to lobby for it to be named in the second tranche of those zones and said increasing the number to 21 increased the city’s chances of success.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, said: “This budget is good news for Norwich and the area. We have got investment at the Norwich Research Park, which translates to jobs.

“We have put Norwich’s name in the frame for enterprise zones and we’ll lead all the many who support Norwich’s chances for growth to now get cracking on the detail of a good bid. This budget is what we need.”

Simon Wright, Norwich South MP said: “This is great news for Norwich and Norfolk. Locally, we have one of Europe’s largest single sites for collaborative work in the fields of environmental, health and food sciences, and this investment will help grow the potential of the research park.

“The chancellor also announced other measures to help with the development of life sciences. It’s really encouraging to see the government recognising the contribution of science to economic growth, and investing in the internationally renowned institutions that we have in Norwich.”

The money for the research park seemed to come out of the blue, but bosses at the park were delighted with the news.

Alan Giles, Norwich Research Park director said the funding would help bring forward plans for a commercial science park on the western side of the site which was part of a vision to create 5,000 new jobs on the park and in greater Norwich over the next 15 years.

He said: “It’s a fantastic boost and makes a big difference, it’s the government saying it wants to invest in Norwich and Norfolk.

“We would expect jobs to be created in the food sector and health as part of a new generation of industries which will come along to meet the challenges around low carbon, healthy ageing and food security, we face.”

Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich Chamber of Commerce said she was pleased for the research park, but disappointed the city had missed out, for now at least, on being named an enterprise zone, which would have helped businesses to grow and create jobs.

She said: “We are disappointed that an enterprise zone in Norfolk has not been identified but will lobby hard to be one of the next 10 identified.”

But city council leader Steve Morphew said: “It’s a shame and somewhat predictable that we have been overlooked at this stage.
“There is a still the opportunity in the second batch, but the menatime we will hopefully find out the small print so we can establish if this is a good idea.

“I’d be very reluctant to buy into a half-baked scheme, given how ill thought out money government initiatives have been.”

A plan to make Norwich the base for one of Britain’s first university technical colleges (UTCs) was also boosted by the chancellor’s pledge to double the number which will be funded.

Mr Osborne said UTCs, which will provide technical training opportunities to 11-to 19-year-olds, would double from 12 to 24 by 2014.

City College Norwich and the University of East Anglia (UEA) have submitted an expression of interest to open a UTC at an unidentified city site and the increase in funding has increased the city’s chances of being at the vanguard.

Dick Palmer, principal of City College Norwich, said: “It’s great news. I knew the idea was becoming extremely popular, and there are lots of applications – although some are embryonic.”

While Conservative MP Miss Smith was pleased with the budget, she said everyone in Norwich would benefit from the surprise 1p fuel duty cut.

She said: “Fuel duty is the best news of all here. It will immediately help everyone in Norwich and Norfolk, directly and indirectly.

Andrew Lawrence, who owns the Firs petrol station on Cromer Road in Hellesdon, said the 1p decrease was a ‘welcome surprise,’ but if problems in Libya continued, it could quickly disappear.

• Do you think the Budget was a boost for Norwich? Or were you disappointed in the announcements? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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