England

Regional Growth Fund promises 8,500 North East jobs

At least 8,500 jobs are being promised after North East projects won £93m from a government fund aimed at boosting private investment.

More than 50 firms and organisations successfully bid for a share of the £1.4bn regional growth fund.

Among the winning bids were Newcastle University's Science City project and a scheme to encourage small chemical companies on Teesside.

Labour criticised the fund as "too little to make a difference".

The government claims the region's allocation could create a further 17,000 jobs in the supply chain.

Impressive operations

The fund is in part a way to alleviate the demise of regional development agencies, which are being abolished as part of the government's public sector spending cuts.

Other successful bidders included Darlington-based Cummins Engineering, Jarrow Brewery on South Tyneside and PD Teesport.

The awards were welcomed by the North East Chamber of Commerce.

Chief Executive James Ramsbotham said: "This investment will support the creation of long-term, high quality private sector jobs in the region and enable each company to further enhance their already impressive operations."

Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham said: "Whilst the investment from the Regional Growth Fund is very welcome, it is but a fraction of the money that has been invested in recent years through the regional development agency and central government departments.

"In the face of rising unemployment, rocketing inflation and thousands of young people not in employment, education or training, it is far too little to make the huge difference necessary to help turn our economy around."

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