Company run by Tory donor says it could build Anglesey factory – but only if island has freeport status
A company run by a Conservative donor has said that it will consider moving a factory to Anglesey – but only if it has freeport status.
Cable manufacturer Tratos UK, based at Knowsley on Merseyside, has said that it wants a site next to the sea to overcome road and rail transportation limitations.
But the firm run by Dr Maurizio Bragagni says freeport status – which means that goods that arrive into the area from abroad are exempt from tax charges – would be a key part of plans to export globally from the site.
Bragagni is a donor to The Conservative Party in the UK and supported Zac Goldsmith as the Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London in the May 2016 elections. Tratos also donated £5,000 towards Theresa May’s leadership bid.
The company’s call for freeport status echoes that of Welsh Secretary Simon Hart who told the House of Commons earlier this week that he would overrule the Welsh Government if they attempt to block plans for a tax-free free port in Wales.
Forst Minister Mark Drakeford has put the breaks on the freeport plan, saying that he wasn’t keen on the idea if it lead to lower environmental standards.
But Simon Hart said that the UK Government planned to go ahead with the plan whether the Welsh Government resisted or not.
He said that it was a “source of some frustration that we have yet to get it over the line”.
“Now very clearly we would like to do that in collaboration with the Welsh government which is where the blockage currently resides but we can – and if necessary we will – proceed to deliver on our manifesto commitment come what may,” he said.
Tratos however said that any deal depended on freeport status for Anglesey.
A Tratos spokesman said: “Tratos is in discussions with a number of UK locations that already have freeport status – but if Anglesey achieves freeport status the company would very much like to explore further some of the particular advantages the location offers.
“Building the factory at Anglesey island would not only fulfill the UK’s increasing demand for export and array cables of any length for the next 30 years, but would also export to the EU, globally.”
The island’s Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie said: “If we want companies to invest, we need to be attractive and that means freeport status for Holyhead.”
Mark Drakeford said in March that they “will not be keen to sign up to a freeport proposal that leads, for example, to a reduction in environmental standards. The UK government has agreed conditionality with the Scottish government in that way”.
“We would look for joint decision making given that devolved and non-devolved responsibilities are at stake in freeports, and again the UK government has agreed joint decision making with the Scottish government.
“Then we’d look for the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales as is being made available to all freeports in England – that’s £25m available to a freeport in England, we’d expect to see the same level of funding for a freeport in Wales.
“If there is progress on those three things that conversation can certainly continue.”