Thursday, 25 April 2013

Getting the economy back on its feet

Last Friday I met a group of local business leaders to discuss some of the opportunities in our area. Work is about to begin on some major projects. Hayle harbour is going to be transformed, work is about to commence on the new road at Tuckingmill, and plans to build a new Cornwall Archive Centre at the brewery site in Redruth are set to go to the planning committee for approval. However, once the construction work is done, we need new businesses to start up, employ people and make the profits to generate new wealth in our towns and that is the next priority.

Holman Brothers might have gone some thirty years ago, but their legacy continues to this day. What I find striking as I go around our industrial estates is how much world beating manufacturing still goes on in this part of Cornwall. There are some specialist manufacturers in the oil and gas industry which emerged from our heritage in rock drilling expertise. Fugro Seacore near Falmouth are world leaders in offshore oil platforms, while Calidus at Redruth manufactures high tech electronic devices for use in deep underground oil exploration. A new local firm, Large Diameter Drilling which is also a leading player in oil exploration, is planning to open a new plant at Tolvaddon which will create over a hundred jobs.

There are other businesses that developed a specialism in precision engineering. DP Engineering at Redruth produces high quality, precision components for use in the aerospace industry. Pall is a world leader when it comes to air filtration systems for helicopters. Meanwhile Rigibore in Hayle makes specialist components for the manufacturers of hydraulic systems and Teagle is a specialist in farm machinery.

That’s just a handful of the success stories in engineering. We then have national leaders in other sectors like Frame UK which makes timber frame homes, OMC which develops fibre optics and LED lighting, Contico which is a leading plastics moulding business and then leading food processors like Falfish in Redruth, Roddas Cream at Scorrier and Tulip and Furniss at Pool.

Together all these manufacturing businesses already employ thousands of local people so we have the foundations to build on. Their diversity proves that we shouldn’t be prescriptive about which business sectors we support. Economic planners in the Council should not devise strategies that are biased in favour of fashionable sectors. Instead, they ought to back talented people with a winning idea, whatever their line of business. At a time when the Council needs to find back office savings in order to protect front line services they should also be reducing duplication and it’s time to review the approach to economic development. We have a Local Enterprise Partnership, a Cornwall Development Company and an Economic Development Department. There could be greater clarity of purpose if roles were simplified.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.