July 25 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
MP Steve Barclay has demanded an urgent statement from an enterprise partnership following the decision to give £500,000 for an agri-tech centre in Soham and not to Chatteris.
The MP for NE Cambs is particularly incensed since he was “one of the key players alongside my colleague George Freeman MP to help secure government funding for an agri-tech centre in Cambridgeshire”.
Mr Barclay has called for the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to explain the breakdown of funding for proposed schemes between the Cambridgeshire constituencies.
The Soham project is part of a £1.76million investment over the next three years.
Overall it will create 77 jobs and 15 apprenticeships and ¬safeguard 148 jobs.
Work is due to start on the G’s Group-owned site in July and be completed before the end of the year.
Mark Reeve, enterprise partnership chairman, said: “By investing in the hub we are providing space for projects to develop and grow, with the end focus on creating new jobs in the future.
But Mr Barclay said: “It is important for the LEP to demonstrate to my constituents that they are not forgotten. It is illogical for the wealthiest areas of the county to keep being the ones getting the most funding.
“I accept the decision on the agri-tech going to Soham, although it is disappointing for Fenland, but it is now even more important that the LEP sets out what it will deliver for our area.”
A spokesman for Fenland Council said: “We are obviously disappointed not to have succeeded in bringing this major new agri-tech centre to Fenland.
“However, we remain optimistic that our own proposal can still be taken forward.”
Fenland Council worked with Produce World of Chatteris to develop a Centre for Agriculture Training, Innovation and Education (CATIE).
Mr Reeve said the Fenland proposal had “great potential to support training for the developing agri-tec sector.
“Whilst we can only select one innovation centre, my team at the LEP are looking at other opportunities and we hope to be able to pick up on this initiative in the future.”