Business hub bid for A120 in Essex

The new leader of Essex County Council David Finch

The new leader of Essex County Council David Finch - Credit: Archant

BUSINESSES looking to move to Essex will benefit from reduced business rates and cuts to planning red tape under proposals announced by senior county councillors.

Speaking to the full council after he was confirmed as the new leader at Essex County Council, David Finch revealed plans to create “enterprise zones” next to the A120 in a bid to attract companies to the county.

The road, which links Stansted Airport in the west with Harwich International Port in the east, is regarded as an important business corridor through the middle of the county, and the new Conservative administration says improving the highway, so it becomes a magnet for businesses, is a key priority.

Council representatives met with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond earlier this year to discuss plans for upgrading the road. They have also approached representatives of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership about setting up enterprise zones along the A120.

“We will influence our local enterprise partnership and central government, using every lever we can to get the best deal for Essex,” said Mr Finch.

Explaining the plans after the speech, councillor Kevin Bentley, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economic growth and infrastructure, said that Essex County Council was also working with three councils – Braintree and Tendring districts and Colchester Borough – to decide where best to locate the enterprise zones.

He said: “Hopes of improving the A120 have been around for a while but we are determined to make it happen.

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“We must get the commitment to improve the road first and after that we can start talking to businesses about coming to the area. I don’t know of any other road in the country that directly links a seaport with an airport and we also offer some of the nicest places in the country to live and work.

“Already around Braintree, where the road has been made a dual carriageway, there are business units cropping up next to the road and we want to see this happen along other stretches of the A120.”

He said Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council were in the process of deciding where the best place to develop enterprise zones in their area would be.

Innovation and prosperity were key themes in Mr Finch’s speech yesterday and he said this would be achieved by a “renewed drive” in three areas: education and skills, employment and entrepreneurship, and economy and infrastructure.

He said: “We will support links between schools, businesses and successful entrepreneurs so young people can be inspired to success.

“We will work to align the provision of skills training in Essex with the skills needs of Essex businesses – and give businesses a greater say and control over that provision.”