Below is a copy of the letter John Penrose sent in support of the West of England Combined Authority’s bid for the Great Western FreePort. You can read more about the bid here.
I am writing in support of the West of England Combined Authority’s proposals for the Great Western Freeport, which could create growth and job opportunities for businesses and communities across the area, including in my constituency of Weston-super-Mare and its nearby villages too.
‘Levelling Up’ means making sure that the post-Brexit benefits of becoming a genuinely international and global free-trading nation are spread beyond the already-prosperous south-east, so a strong trading hub for the southwest will be a vital and essential building block in achieving this. The existing port’s commercial dynamism and proven record of success provide the strongest foundation stone for developing a freeport project anywhere in the region, and it is supported by excellent domestic and international transport links for freight and people, plus a good and improving local employment skills base too.
Here in Weston, we have many established businesses that would grow further and faster with the enhanced local and global role the Great Western Freeport would bring, as well as the Junction 21 Enterprise Area; Food Works SW (our newly built food innovation centre); plus business accelerators like The Hive and co-working spaces like The Stable that are primed and ready to help new arrivals and entrepreneurial start-ups expand. And Weston College is one of the most successful and fast-growing education institutions in the country, offering courses through their South West Skills Campus which includes their Engineering Training Centre and Future Technology Centre, and regularly winning awards for its Further Education, sixth form and University Centre provision.
Finally but equally importantly, the benefits to Weston’s most deprived communities would be significant and profound. We have several local postcodes which rank amongst the most-deprived communities of the UK when measured against Indices of Multiple Deprivation, and the opportunities which a freeport would bring could transform their fortunes permanently for the better.
MP for Weston-super-Mare