Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson unlocking the gates to the former Vaux Brewery site
A MULTI-MILLION-POUND bid to turn the North East into the region’s most advanced manufacturing centre has been handed in to ministers.
Officials at Sunderland Council have submitted a City Deal document which, if it wins Government support, would see powers handed over to speed up plans for 4,000 jobs on the unused former Vaux brewery site.
The document includes a plan, jointly with South Tyneside, to create a national advanced manufacturing centre, building on the area’s Nissan jobs base.
Also in the submission is a request for Government help to extend the Metro system, with rail operators Nexus already hoping for nine new lines, running on a mixture of trains, trams and special bus routes.
The City Deal follows a successful bid by Newcastle to borrow more than £92m alongside private sector investment totalling £400m for Tyneside.
Sunderland is in the second round of City Deals and will not know for certain if it has been successful until later in the year. Cities Minister Greg Clark has made clear success will only come if councils in the region change the way they take major decisions.
In a move which could pave the way for a return to the days of a Tyne and Wear county council, Mr Clark said he wants to see steps taken towards the creation of a combined authority for the region.
Councils could then have to follow the Manchester model, in which 10 local authorities are legally bound to make joint decisions on transport and regeneration.
Last night Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said he was convinced the city had handed over a strong bid.
He said: “A City Deal for Sunderland has the potential to provide a major boost for the city’s economy and that of the wider area and we believe we’ve come up with a compelling case.
“Our expression of interest centres around Sunderland’s ability to boost manufacturing for the entire North East region through the creation of a National Advanced Manufacturing Park in collaboration with South Tyneside.
“The City Deal would enable us to accelerate several of the plans contained within our economic masterplan, launched two years ago, and will forge a direct link between our growing manufacturing base and the rest of the city economy.
“Working with the Government to utilise the benefits of manufacturing growth, we can create a new central business district on the Vaux site, bringing 4,000 jobs and all the spending power that entails to the city centre.”
Sunderland’s Vaux bid would work on a similar model to the funding case in Newcastle, with money used to build office space repaid through local business taxes.
The advanced manufacturing zone could be built in an extended enterprise zone, offering tax incentives to firms such as those working in Nissan’s supply chain.