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Lib Dems urge get tough on enterprise zone to protect communities

May 2, 2012 11:47 AM

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have called for tough guidance on letting space at Alconbury's new Enterprise Zone to prevent companies "boundary hopping" for tax advantages.

They want to give priority to new and existing businesses that will bring new investment and jobs to the area.

And they want manufacturing and production businesses to be encouraged to complement the Cambridgeshire research companies.

Under the Tory Thatcher and Major governments, the creation of enterprise zones often led to "boundary hopping" - the relocation of businesses to take advantage of the benefit of reduced business rates - claim the Lib Dems.

This harmed the economy of existing towns and communities while at the same time bringing no real benefits, they say.

The Lib Dems acknowledge that property group, Urban and Civic will have the final say in letting the site to companies, but they want the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership to guide the lettings process to protect the economies of Huntingdonshire and Peterborough.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Planning, Enterprise and Environment Kevin Wilkins (pictured) will raise the issue in a motion to Cambridgeshire County Council on May 15.

Cllr Wilkins said: "It's important not to repeat the government's mistakes of the 1980s and 1990s.

"The enterprise zone at Alconbury Airfield needs to improve the local economy by getting local businesses to expand what they do - not simply steal business from elsewhere in the county.

"The zone mustn't be allowed to become a route for the Conservatives to give some business people a way to avoid paying their fair share of tax."

Huntingdonshire District Councillor, Mike Shellens said, "Local Lib Dems welcome the arrival of the local Enterprise Zone. The concerns identified here will go far towards ensuring that the benefits will not be restricted to the balance sheet of a boundary-hopper company, but will flow to the economy as a whole including wider Huntingdonshire."