Government urged to include Alcan in its enterprise zone

Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.
Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Lynemouth.

SENIOR politicians are calling for the government to think outside of the box to help unemployed people in south east Northumberland.

Labour MPs Ronnie Campbell and Ian Lavery, along with group leader Grant Davey, have called on chancellor George Osborne and business secretary Vince Cable to help the county.

The trio believe the government should extend the recently announced Blyth Enterprise Zone to include the area around the former Rio Tinto Alcan site in Lynemouth.

Mr Osborne was in Sunderland last week to highlight the benefits of the city’s enterprise zone and how it was helping attract private sector businesses to the region.

And Labour officials believe Northumberland could enjoy similar benefits if the Port of Blyth Enterprise Zone was extended, helping boost the economy and bring in more jobs.

Enterprise status will give enhanced capital allowances for private investment, business rate relief, subsidy to employ, and transport link help.

Coun Davey, leader of the Labour group on Northumberland County Council, said: “It is time that political parties in Northumberland concentrated on creating the conditions to foster growth.

“There’s too much talking about creating private sector jobs and not enough support to allow communities to get on with it.

“That is why the chancellor and his government need to hear the message from all parties in Northumberland.

“They need to extend the enterprise zone as a priority.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, who campaigned to keep the Rio Tinto Alcan site open after bosses first said it would close, added: “We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make sure this coalition has got the message that its policies are hitting south east Northumberland hard and the extension of the Port of Blyth Enterprise Zone is practical help now.

“The chancellor needs to listen to those on the ground who are dealing with unemployment and squeezed living standards and we’re hoping the county council will support our lobby to make this happen.”

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell said: “We see this extension as being unfinished business.

“I have many former Alcan workers in my constituency and I’ve promised I won’t leave them behind.

“This isn’t party political, which is why I hope (Berwick MP) Sir Alan Beith and Coun Jeff Reid, leader of the council, will back Labour’s plan to attract jobs to south east Northumberland.”