The first physical North East Lincolnshire Council Cabinet meeting for 14 months was held at Grimsby Town Hall last night, with unanimous approval for the next stage of the Freeports governance arrangements.
As councillors supported the authority acting, on behalf of the Government, as the accountable body for the Freeports project across the Humber authorities, Leader Cllr Philip Jackson began by reminding attendees that it was the first socially-distanced Cabinet meeting the council had held since lockdown restrictions began.
At the end of last year, Government invited different areas to submit proposals for a Freeport. The Humber Freeport bid was submitted earlier this year, and was approved by Government in March.
Freeports are a special kind of port where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. Freeports are similar to free zones, or ‘enterprise zones’, which are designated areas subject to a broad array of special regulatory requirements, tax breaks and government support.
Cllr Jackson said: “This Government backing is a huge step for all concerned, and will support sites across the Humber to be truly transformational. It will provide long-term opportunities for jobs and growth. In North East Lincolnshire, it means that we’ll be able to maintain the momentum demonstrated in recent years across some of our most important economic sites.”
As previously reported, the new Humber Freeport will:
- Contain customs zone sites all across the Humber including the four main ports
- Three new tax sites on both banks of the Humber that will incentivise growth in new manufacturing, research and development and green energy jobs. One site is located to the East of the Port of Hull, one site is located on development land in Goole and the third on the Able Marine Development Park in Killingholme.
- Secure significant inward investment from blue-chip multinationals with the potential to attract and drive both supply chain and innovation ecostructures.
- Utilise local labour to help tackle the issues of deprivation not just in the Humber but beyond into surrounding areas in Doncaster, Wakefield and Leeds.
As part of the Freeports arrangements, there are likely to be tax incentives and customs benefits which will help attract manufacturing and growth industries, as well as those reliant on the ports.
Freeports are intended to stimulate economic activity in their designated areas. The main intention is to attract inward investment to build new facilities such as manufacturers or research and development facilities which bring jobs to an area, taking advantage of the incentives of being inside the Freeport zone.
At the meeting Cllrs Stan Shreeve and Stewart Swinburn said the council being approached to take on this lead Freeports role was ‘very encouraging’, reflecting the tremendous amount of work that was going on within the authority, the Borough, and across the wider Humber. Furthermore, Cllr Jackson highlighted the continued collaboration between public and private sectors across the region and how that had been recognised in the Humber gaining Freeports status.