Leigh Welcomes Gravity

At a special meeting of Somerset Council held at Somerset County Cricket ground in Taunton, councillors gave unanimous backing to the Gravity Gigafactory project, which could create up to 4,000  jobs, just outside of Bridgwater. The jobs will be skilled, green and will require, as with Hinkley Point, a supply chain in the locality. County Labour Group Leader, Leigh Redman, spoke in support of the project, endorsing the creation of a Locality Investment Plan and a Gravity Enterprise Zone. The Council committed itself to supporting the development of the enterprise zone and the delivery of the battery factory in a way that was cost neutral while allowing the investment needed to maximise the local benefits.

Gravity received cross party support at the County Cricket ground meeting

Leigh Redman said “Chair I have a short statement and one question, the statement first. Somerset council Labour group want to add our support for this decision. The fact that we are at this point and making this decision following the signing of the government grant paperwork is fantastic. We have been supporting the project since its conception. The announcement of the Battery factory, in the working heart of Somerset, we fully support and see it as a long term benefit for every corner of our community.”

High Value Well Paid Jobs

Leigh continued “This investment at Gravity will create a significant number of long term, high value, well paid jobs for local people to access, whilst at the same time helping continue the education opportunities that started with HPC in partnership with Bridgwater & Taunton college and many other education bodies, giving local people of every age further opportunities to learn or re-skill. We loose too many young people who are forced to move away to learn, often resulting in them staying away to work.

With the Somerset council budget in crisis, the timing of this cannot be understated. It means that the project can go forward and not put the council under any unnecessary strain. Somerset Council Labour group has been working with officers for many years now to ensure all elements that impact our communities are highlighted, and we look forward to working with officers in a continued air of openness on this exciting project.

Financially Re-assured

I have one question, can the 151 officer and or Executive Member please explain how this funding would work if the worse happened and the council is forced to declare a section 114?”

Leigh had rightly raised the issue of the danger of Somerset Council becoming a failed council during this process and whether that would undermine the whole project. Executive Director Resources & Corporate Services , Jason Vaughan, however re-assured him that the rules of any section 114 notice meant that it could not impinge on this decision and further pointed to a new and sizeable non-repayable grant from Government that would cover costs to allow this to go ahead.

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