Vince Cable impressed by North Devon success
- Credit: Archant
Business owners and local factories win praise from Government minister.
BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable has admitted he was impressed by North Devon during his visit to the region.
Accompanied by North Devon MP Sir Nick Harvey, he attended a breakfast meeting with 35 members of the North Devon Manufacturer’s Association before touring TDK Lambda in Ilfracombe and Actavis in Barnstaple.
Speaking during his visit to the Ilfracombe electronic manufacturer, he said: “What was a pleasant surprise was the number of successful manufacturing companies in this area – I was not aware there was that degree of development, companies like this (TDK) which are really outstanding, successful exporters, employing substantial numbers of local people and high levels of skills.
“It enthuses me to pursue with Nick Harvey how best we can support this kind of drive, and not just for this area but for the whole UK economy. Basically it’s everything we need – high skilled, high valued employment and the potential for further investment.”
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Dr Cable said that during his visit it had been explained to him ‘very strongly’ that the government needed to give greater recognition to the problems of low wages and high property prices looming over North Devon. He said he had signalled that he felt the minimum wage should be increased ‘in real terms’.
He said it had been suggested the region should be considered for Assisted Area Status – where additional financial support can be given to small businesses and large enterprise.
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“Certainly I think we will look at that sympathetically as the argument has been set out very well,” he added.
“Your MP is a very voluble and articulate advocate of giving this area comparable assisted status to other parts of the country.”
When asked his response to some local fears the proposed Atlantic Array offshore wind farm would bring little economic or business benefit to North Devon, with most centred in South Wales, He said: “As I understand it there is a potential that some fo the infrastructure could be built in coastal areas of north Devon.
“It is very much up to the local enterprise partnership to start moving their strategy. The Department of Energy and climate Change does have a fund for supporting onshore supply chain development.”
On what could be built where, Mr Harvey added: “It is competitive and the decision on that won’t be made until the construction phase. I have articulated that same anxiety, that I would be very anxious that we don’t miss out.”
Dr Cable’s visit was arranged earlier this year when Mr Harvey spoke to Phil Scotcher, general manager of TDK Lambda and chairman of the NDMA.
“I asked if he could get Vince Cable down to take a look at what’s going on in terms of manufacturing in North Devon, as we are a bit of a best kept secret,” said Mr Scotcher.
“I am really grateful Nick Harvey has managed to grab a bit of his time. I think he has taken away a few things to explore and to think about.
“We need to find ways of quietly bragging about what we do, because there are some really world class businesses in the area.
“It was great too for our employees at TDK Lambda to see that what we are doing is perceived by others to be valuable.”