The bidding process in England is opening, to establish at least seven new Freeports. The first are expected in 2021, as part of at least 10 across the whole of the UK. But are these ambitions realistic for the UK? TFG’s Flora Tan heard from David Mundy, Partner at BDB Pitmans, stating his views on the freeport bidding:
“As signposted in its recent response to the Freeports Consultation earlier this year the Government (Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the helm) has published its Bidding Prospectus for Freeports. It is restricted to England only but the ambition is for at least seven new Freeports in England with the devolved administrations charged with bringing forward at least one each in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Hence “Freeports for all nations in the UK”.
The bids should respond to the government’s three main objectives: establish national hubs for global trade, bringing investment into the surrounding regions and being a catalyst for trade; regeneration, levelling up of the economy and increasing jobs numbers and value in deprived areas; and creation of hotbeds for innovation.
The Chancellor has consistently championed this initiative. The onus is now thrust on the bid consortiums-ports, local authorities, firms, LEPs and other regional bodies to “show what they can do”.
The Prospectus is awash with the government’s now familiar rhetoric- the nobility of free enterprise, delivering lasting prosperity to the British people and unleashing the deep potential of our port regions.
However we expect the Ports sector to bring forward, pragmatic, balanced but ambitious proposals, with consortia coming forward from Liverpool, the Tyne, Harwich, Bristol, London and the South Coast Ports.
Proposals to be submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by Friday 5th February 2021.
With the challenges of Brexit and the impact of COVID filling already crowded inboxes, this is an ambitious and demanding timetable.”