Ben Bradley, Member of Parliament for Mansfield and Warsop, this morning appeared in front of the Business and Trade Select Committee as part of their inquiry into the performance of investment zones and freeports in England. Ben appeared alongside Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayor.
Ben was invited to give evidence to this inquiry due to the fact he is a board member of the East Midlands Freeport as well as his position as the Leader of Nottinghamshire Council, a key partner of the East Midlands Freeport.
During his evidence, Ben raised some of the issues currently facing the East Midlands Freeport. These include the delays in infrastructure planning as a result of the covid pandemic as well as the difficulty in aligning the various projects across the East Midlands with the goals of the freeport. However, Ben did state that this should be easier under the future East Midlands Combined Authority where a mayor will have significant powers around planning, transport, skills training and other key sectors crucial for economic growth.
While in front of the committee, Ben also highlighted the significant development opportunities that Freeports present, particularly for the East Midlands. It is estimated that as many as 60,000 jobs could be created at the UK’s only inland Freeport with billions of investment by businesses also set to follow once the Freeport is operational. The sites currently under the East Midlands freeport area span across the East Midlands and include East Midlands Airport Gateway and Industrial Cluster, Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station and the East Midlands Intermodal Park.
Commenting, Ben Bradley stated:
‘It was a pleasure to give evidence to the Business and Trade Select Committee this morning as part of their inquiry into the performance of freeports in England. As a local authority leader and member of the East Midlands Freeport board I was able to provide some key insight into both the difficulties and opportunities facing the Freeport.’
‘One of the big challenges is pulling together all of the various projects across the East Midlands and joining them up so they work together to boost growth in our region. This is where the new East Midlands Combined Authority comes in as the future mayor will have the powers needed to link these projects up and really drive growth in our region.’
‘Despite this challenge, I wanted to emphasise the key opportunities the East Midlands Freeport presents for our region and my constituents in Mansfield. Once the Freeport is up and running it will generate tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment for our region.’
‘We are in a unique position in the East Midlands with our Freeport being the only inland one, however it is important that we take advantage of the opportunity this presents. I will be working with stakeholders, both in London and the East Midlands, to progress our Freeport and boost our region’s growth.’