Today I met the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles at Alconbury, along with colleagues from the District Council, LEP and the developers.
He was visiting to see for himself the fantastic growth initiatives in our area. The LEP chose Alconbury, as it’s EZ, for a number of reasons. These included how quickly things could get going, and if the 36 day approval time for the first incubator building is anything to go on it was the right choice. Footings are being laid as we speak.
We got to show Eric the whole site and were able to explain to him this fantastic opportunity. Alconbury, mid way between the manufacturing Center of Peterborough and the research of Cambridge makes it perfect for development. And it is often. The development part of R and D that is lost overseas.
Urban & Civic as developers continue to impress with their energy and pragmatism.
I was due to open the new on site training facility, provided by Huntingdon Regional College but was bumped by Eric, if you see what I mean. It was with my great pleasure that this great facility was officially opened.
Seeing some of the young electrical trainees, working hard for a qualification that will help them to earn a good wage and help the economy, reminded me that I started out as an apprentice in the RAF. And look at the trouble that finally got me into!!!!
I was slightly concerned to see the SoS in a booth with an electrician fiddling with electrical cables. I was assured the system was not live which gave me some comfort. A minister getting electrocuted on my watch, at our EZ, would not make good reading!!!
I was able to make a pitch for the new rail station at Alconbury. Network Rail would welcome it, as it will provide a relief to a pinch point ( translates into an overtaking lane I think ) and Urban & Civic are keen to build one. It will need some help form DfT to get over the line.
Eric was also able to reassure me that the A14 was at the top of the list of infrastructure projects for this government and had his support.
In a private meeting with Eric I was able to discuss a number of matters relating to the growth of Cambridgeshire. I very positive visit.