Let’s get cracking on an innovation centre says MP who believes it could be worth 100s of jobs for Wisbech
09:57 31 July 2014
An innovation centre for Wisbech could help create 100s of jobs and boost the local economy is the belief of MP Steve Barclay.
Mr Barclay is keen to see Fenland cash-in on a pot of EU funding which will be up for grabs next spring and he is urging local councils and other responsible organisations to prepare their bids now.
The Wisbech innovation centre is just one of five schemes he believes could benefit from the EU cash. The others include the re-opening of the Wisbech rail-link; dualling of the A47; raising of the Welney Causeway and a southern by-pass for Ely.
Mr Barclay believes a project already under-construction in Suffolk could provide the blue-print for a Fenland bid for an innovation centre scheme in Wisbech, which could be the central point of a ‘Golden Triangle’ that links in Whittlesey from the west, March to the south and Wisbech to north.
Known as The Epicentre, the project, which secured £2million worth of LEP funding from both New Anglia and the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEPS, is set to create around 300 new jobs when it opens in Haverhill next year.
Mr Barclay believes Wisbech is the perfect location for a similar project in Fenland and has secured the support of Dr Neil Stott, Senior Teaching Faculty in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, who is willing to help draw up the bid.
“The LEPs are likely to receive around £166 million between them to promote economic growth and social well-being in this part of East Anglia,” said the MP for NE Cambs.
“Wisbech is one of the most deprived areas not only in Cambridgeshire but in the country and it would benefit most from an innovation centre focused on entrepreneurship and the agri-tech sector with the other Fenland towns also benefiting.”
He said an innovation centre could help drive up local expectations among young people and bring white collar jobs to an area where they are currently lacking.
The Haverhill project secured joint investment from both the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough and the New Anglia LEP.
“A similar scheme in Wisbech could also benefit from joint funding as it sits on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border,” he said
“An innovation centre would also help the case for improved transport links including the re-opening of the rail link and the A47 between Guyhirn and Wisbech made into dual-carriageway.”