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Grimsby MP Melanie Onn urges ministers at PMQs to fund economy-boosting town deal

Grimsby’s multi-million pound regeneration plans need “more than a by-line in a glossy magazine” to ensure they happen, the town’s MP has told ministers.

Grimsby MP Melanie Onn urges ministers at PMQs to fund economy-boosting town deal

Melanie Onn MP, in an appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, urged Government to “put its money where its mouth is” and announce the public funding required to kick-start the 10-year upgrade plan.

The Great Grimsby town deal – which is looking for up to £36.9 million of Government funds – was highlighted in the mammoth 255-page industrial strategy white paper which was published on Monday.

The scheme envisages an initial five-year investment plan from Whitehall to match private investment and spruce up the town’s waterways and docks, while creating educational and leisure opportunities. The long-term aims are to create 5,400 jobs and build 7,700 homes.

While backers of the bid – estimated to boost the local economy by £216 million per year if realised – were buoyed by being name-dropped in the industrial strategy, there was also concern that there was no mention of a financial commitment – only that Government was “working with” the private-led consortium behind the project.

The regeneration scheme is backed by town-raised millionaire David Ross, ex-chancellor Norman Lamont and Associated British Ports, along with North East Lincolnshire Council.

Ms Onn used her appearance in the House of Commons to ask the Government about when it intended to grant the funds to the project board.

The Labour shadow minister said: “Thanks to the outstanding effort by the Labour council in North East Lincolnshire, the Government has included the Greater Grimsby Project in its industrial strategy document.

“But we need more than a by-line in a glossy magazine to make its potential a reality,” she continued.

“Will the First Secretary of State [Damian Green] say when we can expect his Government put its money where its mouth is so we can get going?”

Mr Green, standing in for Theresa May who is visiting the Middle East, said the industrial strategy would “be good for Grimsby” and hinted that money could be forthcoming.

The Cabinet minister replied: “I think, beneath this, I can welcome the fact that the honourable lady is welcoming the industrial strategy – as she should do.

“It will be good for Grimsby and for many communities around this country, particularly those who may feel in the past they have been left behind.”

Mr Green assured that the industrial strategy would come with “money attached” after the Chancellor had allocated funds to the economic measures in last week’s Budget.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Onn said she would continue to press the Conservative administration on the amount it will earmark for the Grimsby town deal and how soon it plans to put the cash into the project board’s hands.

Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes, said he hoped the appearance of the town deal in the white paper was part of a “growing recognition” in Westminster that there “has to be a focus on places like Grimsby and Cleethorpes and not just on city regions”.

The backbench MP added: “It is encouraging but we are not there yet.”

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