​The Great Western Freeport Bid Backed by Business Leaders & Influential Supporters across the West of England

Monday 22nd February 2021

With government decisions imminent in respect of Freeport bids throughout the U.K., the Great Western bid (with a deep sea port at its' heart) has been given significant support by business leaders and influencers across the West of England in an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. Describing the bid proposal as a 'world class trade and job hub' and stressing that economic modelling suggests that it could generate an economic return of £3bn p.a. for the regional economy, the signatories of the letter highlight a significant and wide ranging number of further benefits which would flow from a successful bid. For more detail on this subject please read the bulletin below which was issued by Insider Media Ltd today.

Roger Mundy, Managing Director, Beardsley Theobalds, 22nd February 2021


Business Leaders Back Great Western Freeport Plans

Business leaders from across the West of England have emphasised their support for the Great Western Freeport bid, describing the proposal as a "world-class trade and jobs hub" in an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The bid, which was submitted earlier this month, was put together by the West of England Combined Authority working with public and private sector partners, including large-scale businesses across the aerospace and nuclear sector, the region’s universities and colleges, innovation centres, local authorities and business networks.

The Great Western Freeport would be based around Bristol Port, the deep water port, with additional tax and customs sites at Avonmouth and Severnside, Junction 21 Enterprise Area and Gravity Smart Campus.

Economic modelling shows it could bring in an economic return of £3bn each year to the regional economy, while it has also been forecast that it could create up to 50,000 local jobs and 90,000 nationally.

Signatories to the letter said they "strongly support" the government’s ambition to create a new era of global trade in the UK and enable stronger, successful and more resilient, inclusive local economies.

With a decision possibly set to be announced as soon as next month's Budget, the letter also details why Great Western's backers think the bid should succeed, saying that with a deep sea port at its heart it is "perfectly placed to realise this ambition, as a world class hub for global trade and investment. In doing so, it can deliver the government’s industrial strategy and drive to rebalance and level up economic growth across the UK".

In addition to the economic and jobs impact, further benefits of the Freeport outlined in the letter include: the presence of a plethora of 'shovel ready’ brownfield regeneration sites in the South West; world-class connectivity which can create a gateway to global markets, enabled by 5G; and the strategic location of Bristol Port on US and Asian trade routes.

The letter further argues that a Freeport would bring new opportunities to business, with opportunities and space "to start-up, grow, diversify and adapt, to create new products and services, and form and integrate into new supply chains in sectors fit for the future".

The West of England's international reputation for innovation and engineering is also hailed as is the area's ability to drive new clean growth opportunities in manufacturing, trade and inward investment.

Further benefits include high performing academic institutions at Bristol and Bath universities which will lead to research and development, innovation and technological advancement while the region's further education colleges, including Institutes of Technology, would provide new skills and training, with thousands of new apprenticeships provided.

The signatories to the letter are:

Martin Bellamy – Chairman, This is Gravity Ltd; Katherine Bennett – Chair, Western Gateway; Richard Bonner - UK Commercial & Operations Director, Arcadis & West of England LEP Board Member; Prof Hugh Brady – Vice-Chancellor & President, University of Bristol; David Brown – Chief Executive, The Bristol Port Company & West of England LEP Board Member; Nigel Cann – Hinkley Point C Delivery Director, EDF Energy; John Chaplin – Chair, SevernNet; Heather Cooper – Chief People Officer, Hargreaves Lansdown & West of England LEP Board Member; Neil Douglas – Director, Viper Innovations & West of England LEP Board Member; James Durie – Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber & West of England Initiative, Business West; Katherine Finn – Assurance Partner, PwC & West of England LEP Deputy Chair; Kevin Hamblin – Group CEO & Executive Principal, South Gloucestershire & Stroud College; Stephen Henagulph – CEO, Somerset Chamber of Commerce; Angela Hicks – Chief Executive, North Somerset Enterprise Agency; Dave Lees – Chief Executive, Bristol Airport; Andrew Leighton-Price Chair, West of England Institute of Technology; Muir Macdonald – Chair, IOD SW; Zoe Metcalfe - Director, Value Shift & West of England LEP Board Member; Lee Nathan – Regional Chairman South West, Federation of Small Business; Richard Oldfield – CEO, National Composite Centre; Dick Penny – Creative Consultant & West of England LEP Board Member; Laurel Penrose – Principal & CEO, Bath College; Dr Paul Phillips - Principal & CEO, Weston College; Marty Reid – Director, Set Squared & The Engine Shed; Jon Reynolds - Chief Executive Officer, GDS Digital & West of England LEP Board Member; Prof Sue Rigby – Vice Chancellor, Bath Spa University; Joanne Rumley – Partner, Foot Anstey & West of England LEP Board Member; Colin Skellett – Group Chief Executive, YTL; Natasha Swinscoe CEO,West of England Academic Health Science Network & West of England LEP Board Member; Nigel Toon – CEO, Graphcore; Colin Turner – CEO, West of England Aerospace Forum; Prof Steve West – Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England & West of England LEP Chair; Prof Ian White – Vice Chancellor, University of Bath

Insider is campaigning to back the various bids and provide an in-depth guide to the different locations, outlining what their credentials are and what the long-terms benefits to the economy will be.