By Local Democracy Reporter
A NEW freeport will hugely bolster employment in Thurrock, a leading councillor has proclaimed.
DP World and Forth Ports are bidding for a new Thames Freeport, with London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant with the Thames Enterprise Park at its heart.
Thames Enterprise Park is a 669-acre former oil refinery ripe for development.
A freeport in Thurrock would secure more than £400 million in port infrastructure, which will lead to a doubling of a port capacity and over 20,000 new jobs, with significant investment in training and skills over the next 25 years.
Senior councillor Mark Coxshall, Cabinet member for regeneration and strategic planning, said: “We think it is going to generate around 20,000 new jobs, over and above.
“The ports sector is a highly skilled industry. The advantages are huge, it’s giving good quality highly paid manufacturing jobs to the area. It’s a great opportunity and I urge everyone to get behind it. Thurrock and Barking and Dagenham are some of the most-deprived areas in the country and this is an opportunity to level up the area.”
Richard Ballantyne, Executive of British Ports Association said: “It’s an exciting time for those that can get freeport status.”
Organisations operating within freeports have the added advantage of deferring the payment of taxes until their products are moved to another place, alternatively they can avoid them if they bring in products to store or manufacture on site before exporting them again.
Mr Ballantyne added: “A lot of our port areas are around deprived regions. Ports are hubs of activity and economic drivers, which leads people to be employed in them. This strategy allows new development to come in and well-paid jobs to the local community.”
A Thames Freeport spokesperson: “A Thames Freeport will provide more and better jobs for local residents. After decades of Government initiatives to create growth and regeneration across river communities, the freeport has the potential to turbocharge the best of the private sector.”
Mr Coxshall added: “This is a massive Brexit dividend, and we need to make sure that The Thames Estuary is at the foot front of that. Thurrock is in a prime position as ports are in it’s DNA. We’ve had a free port here in 2012 – so we’ve got good experience and can get going straight away.”