A raft of innovative new measures to help build momentum in the region’s economy have been suggested by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as it makes its budget representations to the Government.
The LEP has submitted a package of proposals, including requesting that the Government confirm funding for the A63 Castle Street upgrade in Hull, part-fund a new National Flood Resilience Centre in Scunthorpe, as well as asking for commitment to the Energy Estuary 2.0 Strength in Places Fund bid led by the University of Hull.
The opportunities and projects chosen all complement the LEP’s aims of its upcoming Industrial Strategy – accelerating clean growth, developing the Humber ports and manufacturing clusters and expanding the region’s knowledge economy. If the Government was to agree to these measures, it would support the LEP and its partners to implement the Humber’s strategy at pace.
A commitment to the A63 Castle Street upgrade could see improved access to the Port of Hull and would help relieve congestion in the city, while a new National Flood Resilience Centre in Scunthorpe would improve the UK’s ability to respond to major flood events and facilitate innovation in flood prevention solutions. The Energy Estuary 2.0 Strength in Places Fund bid led by the University of Hull would expand internationally-significant energy research already taking place in our area.
The Humber LEP has also backed the caravan and motorhome sector’s request to reclassify motorhomes as commercial vehicles for Vehicle Excise Duty purposes, and has instead urged the Government to work with them to find an appropriate way forward that protects both our regional manufacturing industry as well as the tourism jobs it supports on our region’s coasts and countryside.
Meanwhile, in a bid to increase the development and refurbishment of commercial property, the LEP has recommended trebling the rate-free period for empty commercial property in areas with weaker commercial property markets such as the Humber, which would reduce the risk developers face.
Among the other measures, the LEP also recommends that funding is provided for a feasibility study into the Lagoon Hull project, asks that tolls on estuarial crossings like the Humber Bridge are reviewed as the Bridge celebrates its 40th birthday, and lodged the region’s interest in establishing a Freeport to encourage new manufacturing activity, building on the legacy of its Enterprise Zone.
Finally, the LEP has also asked that the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the successor to current European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF) – is devolved to LEP areas, with funding matching or exceeding current levels. The Humber has an excellent track record of committing funding to projects in the current £94m programme – the region has the highest level of ESIF commitment in the country, and the LEP is now working to bring in additional funds that other parts of the country have not been able to spend.
Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP, said: “This is an exciting time for the Humber and there are many innovative projects being developed across the region that we hope the Government will put its support behind.
“Through the development of our Industrial Strategy we have a clear plan for the future of the Humber economy and through consultation with our partners we know exactly what we need to put in place to achieve this.
“Our budget representation to the Government clearly sets out measures that would support economic growth and regeneration across all areas of our region, whether large-scale infrastructure projects such as the A63 upgrade, or measures to help important industries such as the issue of vehicle excise duty on motorhomes or changing the way business rates are implemented to encourage more development.”
Summary of recommendations:
- Decarbonisation of the Humber region: support for a special purpose vehicle and a pilot local energy efficiency programme.
- Humber Freeport: Work with the region to explore the development of a Humber Freeport.
- Transport and Infrastructure: Improvements to Castle Street, more rail gauge upgrades to support more rail freight and the re-introduction of a London-Cleethorpes rail link.
- Humber Bridge: a review into tolls on the Bridge and potential funding for a 40th anniversary celebration.
- Levelling up innovation: Confirmation of “Energy Estuary 2.0” Strength in Places Fund bid, the Creation of Offshore Wind Smart Operations & Maintenance Hub in Grimsby and support proposals for a National Flood Resilience Centre in Scunthorpe.
- Vehicle Excise Duty on motorhomes: Support the sector’s request to reclassify motorhomes as commercial vehicles for VED purposes.
- Lagoon Hull: Support the project’s request for feasibility funding
- Business rates on empty property: Treble the rate-free period for empty commercial property.
- Devolved skills budget: Devolve the adult education budget to target local priorities and enable providers to develop more responsive solutions to local needs and opportunities.
- Places: Maximise Towns Fund/Future High Streets Fund investment for eligible towns.
- Levelling up local capacity and resources to deliver: To devolve future UK Shared Prosperity Fund to LEPs, provide longer-term capacity funding and infrastructure project development funding.