§ 60. Mr. Devlin
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on the package of measures he announced in December to assist industrial regeneration in Sunderland.246W
§ Mr. Newton
I am pleased to say that good progress is being made on the package of measures that I announced to the House on 7 December last.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment, is at present consulting in the European Commission on the proposals for an enterprise zone. In the meantime discussions are taking place with local bodies in Sunderland on boundaries.
English Estates North has drawn up plans for building the first phase of a new business park on the Hylton riverside site in conjunction with the Tyne and Wear development corporation. Work will start in early summer and be completed by the end of the year.
A new company has been formed to undertake counselling, placement and training of employees affected by the NESL closure. A total of £5 million has been set aside for this. To date, over 1,000 people have received counselling and out of those more than 200 have been successfully placed. A further £5 million of the fund is to be administered via a recently launched initiative led by the private sector, with the participation of the Sunderland borough council and Tyne and Wear development corporation. This body, the Wearside Opportunity, will concentrate on local initiatives to help regenerate industry by encouraging local enterprise through project support and business leadership. An experienced official from my Department has been seconded to the Wearside Opportunity to provide administrative back-up. Progress is being made in identifying projects requiring support.
In addition to these measures, I have made available, via the city action team, a further £1.5 million during the current financial year for 13 enterprise and training projects in Sunderland.