Doncaster business chamber boss hits out at Government over freeport snub for South Yorkshire

A leading Doncaster business figure has hit out at Government at their snub for South Yorkshire to be granted a freeport.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:00 am

Doncaster Chamber chief executive Dan Fell said the news was ‘incredibly frustrating’ and a ‘missed opportunity’.

Successful bids were awarded to East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

The freeports are said to unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment and generate trade and jobs and support the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

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Doncaster Chamber chief Dan Fell.

Backers and would-be benefactors include Sheffield Forgemaster, Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Liberty Steel in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, McLaren Automotive and various other advanced manufacturing enterprises across the region.

The bid was supported by cross-party MPs and councils across the region.

New modelling suggests a freeport in the South Yorkshire could:

● Create 28,700 new jobs

● Increase wages by at least east 19 per cent due to a focus on advanced manufacturing

● Add £169m to the South Yorkshire economy every year

● Boost imports by £306m and exports by £410m

● Unlock or accelerate over £500m of investment

● Transform the Sheffield City Region into a net exporter of goods by 2029

Mr Fell said: “The decision by the Chancellor not to award freeport status to the Sheffield City Region is incredibly frustrating.

“This was a missed opportunity for Government to honour its levelling up commitments in South Yorkshire and to catalyse inward investment and innovation in our region.

“Nonetheless, it is important to note that Freeport status would have accelerated plans for economic development in the area rather than driven them.

“Significant opportunities still exist in the region linked to our multimodal connectivity, the iPort and Doncaster Sheffield Airport and we have reason to remain upbeat about the benefit these assets can bring to the wider economy.”

Mr Fell did add that first impressions of the budget more widely were ‘relatively positive’ but that ‘devil will be in the detail’.