Assisted Area Status hope for Isle of Wight

By Ross Findon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


UPDATED 12:25*

HOPES the Isle of Wight could be in line for millions of pounds in extra funding have been boosted today (Wednesday).

The Island has been included on a draft map to be considered for Assisted Area Status (AAS), which could unlock vital funding.

It follows the Island's reponse to a government consultation on which areas should qualify for AAS from 2014 to 2020.

A second stage of consultation is due to start soon, during which areas will be able to build on their case.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will consider the responses, before UK ministers agree the final areas, which will be submitted to the European Commission — the executive body of the European Union — to ensure they meet European state aid rules.

The new Assisted Areas are expected to be in effect from July 1, 2014.

*In a joint statement issued today (Wednesday) by the Isle of Wight Council and MP Andrew Turner, the breakthrough was said to have been made following a meeting with the Minister for Business and Enterprise, Michael Fallon in July.

A submission from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was made on behalf of the Island and with considerable input from the council and partners, the statement said.  

It set out the detailed economic case for the Island to be recognised, as it faced greater economic challenges than other areas in the south east.

Ian Stephens, Isle of Wight Council leader, said: "We are delighted that the Isle of Wight has been included in the Government’s initial report.

"Assisted Area Status is one of the significant things we pursued vigorously in the early months of our administration. 

"Its achievement is one of the council’s main priorities and we have worked hard with partners since May to convince the government the Island has a special case.

"We hope that by attracting inward investment and support for local businesses through Assisted Area Status, we will be in a stronger position to help create new jobs and grow the Island's economy. We recognise that this is only a draft report which could be subject to change, but we will continue to lobby the government and push the Island's case for Assisted Area Status."

Mr Turner said: "This is great news for the Island and testament to the work of all of us who have been campaigning together for a common cause. 

"The hard work that has been put in by the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, the TUC and so many other organisations is paying off."

Kevin Smith, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, added: "This is fantastic news for the Isle of Wight as it is something we have been working on for the last ten years in collaboration with our Island MP and Isle of Wight Council and this moves us closer to getting the recognition that the Island has worked so hard to achieve and will bring benefit to the entire Island community."



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Displaying the last 10 of 28 comments - Show All Comments

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by alan naylor

20th December 2013, at 01:00:51

he who pays the piper call the tune get ready to sing all you island folks

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by Den Young

19th December 2013, at 17:19:10

Iain just for interest, what are your views on ferry prices and do you think it will hold business and Joe public from coming here

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by Den Young

19th December 2013, at 16:48:28

non of that will happen because the ferries are too expensive for them to commute their goods.

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by Mat Thomas

19th December 2013, at 13:54:19

It will be administered through the Solent LEP and it is available for Small and medium Enterprises (SME).

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by Iain McKie

19th December 2013, at 12:00:21

Business rates holidays and lifting car parking charges will aid the high street. Relaxation of aspects of planning restrictions, such as seen with some of the hotels that are being deliberately allowed to decays, would engender growth in the hospitality sector. I would like to see an abandonment of the mandatory levels of new housing that has to be earmarked as social to allow for high end developments that will attract in new money. I would also like to see the 'public' land used with commercial benefit - for example the forestry commission should look at treetop trails and adventure grounds, like GoApe have achieved on the mainland. I can see the attraction of leisure parks like CenterParcs coming to the island. There is also no reason why the island cannot become a significant data recovery and business continuity centre either.

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by Iain McKie

19th December 2013, at 09:05:52

Thanks Mike, I fear that you would be right. Funds would be expensively and inappropriately administered if left to people with no understanding of business. We have an administration that sometimes falls into this category, the Blackgang Viewpoint and Grand Hotel spring immediately to mind.

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by Mike Crowe

19th December 2013, at 08:54:52

One of the ways Iain would be a massive injection into encouraging mainland companies to set up here on the Island if they were labour intensive, just like they did in the early 1980's. Two years rent and rates free for them to come over here.

And what happened at the end of two years?

That's right, they either 'went bust' or openly moved back to the mainland throwing a lot of people out of work.

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by Mike Crowe

19th December 2013, at 08:12:01

Thank you Terry, I did mean , I have just noticed the 'r' crept in.

But you are so correct, there are too many factions which "COULD" pull together for the sake of The Isle of Wight, but .............

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by Iain McKie

19th December 2013, at 08:09:47

How would the funds be spent and administered?

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by Terry Dalley

19th December 2013, at 06:16:13

Sorry Mike but it sounds like you want to stand still and move about ,you can not have both ,either we get into the 21st century or we stay as we are just looking on ,and as for all pulling together there is as much chance of that as there is of Labour winning the next election.
There are to many different factions on the Island now for the unity you seek .

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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