Henry Smith MP has reiterated his backing for the proposed Gatwick Freeport as the bid is officially submitted to the Government earlier today (Friday, 5th February).
Proposals sent to ministers by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership would place the ‘Gatwick Freeport’ in the Manor Royal Business Improvement District in Crawley.
With Gatwick Airport traffic declining by 93 per cent due to the devastating Covid-19 pandemic impact, the Crawley MP, who last year established and continues to chair the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group, has thrown his support behind the proposals.
“Gatwick along with Manor Royal are important drivers for the local economy and employment which also represents a significant net contribution to the UK as a whole.
“However the Covid-19 pandemic is at real risk of levelling down the area, therefore with the now opportunities of global Britain, a Freeport based on Gatwick and Crawley’s Manor Royal business district has the real potential to build back better, stronger and more diverse, enhancing regional and national wellbeing.
“This is a plan I’ve been pleased to champion in Parliament and I whole-heartedly back the bid!”
Last month in a question to the Exports Minister, the Crawley MP urged the Government to support the Gatwick Freeport proposal.
Freeports are an important part of the Government’s post-Brexit agenda for international trade, with successful bids benefiting from generous tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and wider government support.
These new hubs of business and enterprise will create thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s growth.
The project reiterates the importance of Crawley to the local and wider economy. The Manor Royal Business Improvement District provides 30,000 jobs (40 per cent of Crawley’s total employment), with the town providing 45 per cent of all employment in the Gatwick Diamond.
The Manor Royal Business Improvement District is already home to a number of high tech, high innovation businesses such as Thales, LG and Elekta.
Freeport status would support the safeguarding and creation of jobs, and help the recovery of the aviation sector.
The Local Enterprise Partnership and Manor Royal have secured the support of not only the local MP, but West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council as well. Proposals could be developed immediately if the bid is approved, leading to big rewards for the local economy.
The Government are expected to announce 10 successful bids by spring of this year.