FROM the civil war and political turbulence of the 1640s, to its role as a vital hub in Britain's maritime empire and its manufacturing contribution during Britain's heroic fight against the Nazis, the city of Hull has long been entwined with the fortunes of the nation. It has often been neglected, under-estimated and let down, however, so becoming a centre for offshore wind turbine technology would represent an exciting and long-overdue rebirth.
That prospect, which has moved one step closer with an agreement between engineer Siemens and Associated British Ports, could help propel Hull into a new era of prosperity. It is much needed. As a place to live, work and relax, the city has improved hugely over the last decade, but its industrial strength has faded and its dependence on public sector employment means it will be particularly exposed to spending cuts.
The planned manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock, for which plans should be agreed this year, would bring thousands of jobs to the East Riding. It would have a regenerative effect not just on Hull, but on the entire Yorkshire coast and would be one of ABP's largest single investments in Britain.
Now Hull's city fathers must work quickly to ensure the memorandum of understanding between ABP and Siemens is developed into a full agreement. And, while it is not directly related, the long-drawn out progress of Hull, East Riding and Scarborough councils in drawing up plans for local enterprise partnerships cannot continue forever. Resolution will leave the region better-placed to thrive in austerity Britain.
Making the East Riding economy fit for difficult times cannot be done with one deal alone but the arrival of Siemens, and the possibility that GE's 100m wind turbine factory and a manufacturing facility produced by a third, unnamed firm, could also be attracted to the region would together have a transformative effect.
Britain's economic recovery is far from certain but if the next period of growth is, as David Cameron hopes, led by the private sector, then it is projects such as Alexandra Dock that will be at the forefront. Now local authority staff must work with businesses to ensure a new dawn over the historic city of Hull.