Freeports in England to get £25m each – while Wales is offered £8m, says minister
Freeports in England are to receive £25m in financial support each, while Wales is being offered £8m to set one up, according to a Welsh Government minister.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Rural Affairs, told the Senedd that the offer of money from the UK Treasury to set up a freeport in Wales is “completely unacceptable”.
She was responding to a question from Conservative MS Mark Isherwood, who asked about the possibility of setting up a freeport in Holyhead, Anglesey.
Griffiths also criticised the UK Government’s Welsh Secretary Simon Hart for threatening to impose a freeport on Wales “without our agreement”.
The Minister for Rural Affairs said: “Well, at present, no formal offer has been presented to the Welsh Government on a proposed Welsh freeport.
“But we have been absolutely clear that we cannot accept the proposal that a Welsh freeport would receive just £8 million in financial support while every freeport in England gets £25 million.
“I’m sure the Member would agree that’s completely unacceptable. And Welsh Ministers did write to the UK Treasury, back in February, making that very clear.
“And we also set out conditions where a joint approach could be taken, but as yet we haven’t received a response to that letter. So, it’s not possible to take a decision on it unless we have a response from the UK Government.
“I’m sure, again, you will agree that the Secretary of State’s suggestion that the UK Government might choose to implement a freeport in Wales, without our agreement, represents yet another example of a top-down throwback to pre-devolution economic policy, where the message was, ‘In Wales, you’ll get what you’re given.’ And the UK Government need to work with us not against us.
‘Each UK nation’
Mark Isherwood said: “The UK Government is establishing 10 or more freeports around the UK, and wants to establish a freeport in each UK nation.
“This will require a joined-up approach, with businesses, communities, local authorities and the Welsh Government all coming on board.
“The UK freeport model encompasses a broad set of measures to stimulate economic activity, while creating jobs and having a regenerative effect on ports, local communities and economies.”