Partnership seeks £15m grant to boost rural jobs

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EAST Anglia is seeking £15 million of Government cash to pilot a rural growth network to create 700 jobs.

The bid has been submitted by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and is backed by 13 local authorities in Suffolk and Norfolk. The aim is to set up a network of 14 enterprise hubs based on what the partnerships says are ‘under-used business parks’ plus brownfield sites and sites with the potential for businesses in local communities.

The sites are at Stanton, Brandon, Harleston, Fakenham, Swaffham, North Walsham, Aylesham, Downham Market, Framlingham, Attleborough, Brantham, Clare/Glemsford and Eye.

Chris Starkie, programme director for New Anglia, said: “We’ve developed the concept of rural growth networks with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and three other local enterprise partnerships.

“The aim of the bid is to bring new business to rural areas, kick-start enterprise and help establish new companies in areas around the hubs.

“New Anglia has been working with experienced staff from local authorities across Suffolk and Norfolk to select the sites where business has the potential to grow.”

New Anglia says that if the bid is successful it could unlock further funding from the Rural Development Programme for England to help small businesses improve their skills, facilities and competitiveness.

On Monday, New Anglia started consultation on its plans for its £12.2 million share of the Government’s £500 million Growing Places fund, which aims to kick-start stalled developments that would create jobs by funding infrastructure.

It published a plan showing how New Anglia intends to allocate funding and outlining the types of projects that the LEP would consider supporting, a timeline for applications and details the information bidders will need to supply.

The fund is a rolling fund where it provided the cash for infrastructure which the developer repays once the site is earning income.

The Growing Places plan is at www.newanglia.co.uk under the activities tab. Comments must be in by February 24.