£47m aid may bring 10,000 jobs to Yorkshire

YORKSHIRE is in line for a boost of 10,000 jobs after the Government pledged £47m to seven projects in the region from its flagship fund to crack the North-South divide.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said sweet giant Haribo – one of West Yorkshire’s biggest private sector employers – would “probably” have closed its Pontefract base without today’s help to build a new plant in Normanton, but it will now safeguard the existing 478 jobs and create another 286.

Other winners include £18m for a new airport link road in Doncaster, housing schemes in Hull and Wakefield and a wind turbine research centre in Huddersfield.

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The Government said the funding – from the Regional Growth Fund, designed to boost economies outside London and the South East – would deliver “real jobs to real people on the ground now”. Across the country, £450m is being handed out to 50 successful bids, with another £1bn available in a second round for which applications open today.

But another 49 bidders in Yorkshire were disappointed as the Government rejected their applications for £355m from the fund.

Labour accused the Government of “choking off” funding because it is axing regional development agencies.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the Yorkshire Post he was “massively impressed and very excited” by the projects given the green light which are expected to directly create or save 7,628 jobs in the region, with another 2,716 helped in supply chains.

“One of the key criteria was that they should be concentrated in areas which have been over-reliant on the public sector, like Yorkshire and the Humber,” said Mr Clegg. “Crucially the project should generate jobs – private sector, not just public sector – as quickly as possible. We need the jobs now.

“They should also be jobs that last. We need to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past, where the Government has poured millions into the regions hoping that would close the North-South gap but often they would produce white elephant projects that didn’t produce sustainable jobs at all.”

The Regional Growth Fund was launched by Mr Clegg last year, promising £1.4bn over three years to create private sector jobs, particularly in areas which will be badly hit by a cull of public sector jobs, with Ministers conscious some areas will suffer more than others.

Critics have pointed out the fund represents a two-thirds cut compared to the £1.4bn a year which soon-to-be-abolished regional development agencies like Yorkshire Forward have received, and it was massively over-subscribed.

On funding for Dunhills, UK manufacturer of Haribo sweets, Mr Cable said: “That’s a factory that would probably have closed down and moved somewhere else but because of the additional investment we are willing to make through the RGF on the same site the project is both safeguarded and expanded. So you are safeguarding just under 500 jobs and creating almost 300 new ones.”

Company managing director Herwig Vennekens said: “This funding will allow Haribo to expand the UK-based business through a new West Yorkshire facility that will create an estimated 286 new jobs.

“Our plans will complement our existing factory in Pontefract, safeguarding 478 positions and reinforcing our continued commitment to the region whilst supporting the growth and long-term strategy of Haribo in the UK.”

The biggest single winner in the region was funding for the link road from the M18 to Robin Hood Airport, allowing thousands of homes and businesses to be built.

But Shadow Business Secretary John Denham said: “There are more losers than winners.”