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Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton MP was in Wirral on Tuesday 18 August 2015 and took the opportunity to visit Wirral Met’s new college campus, the first building on Peel Group’s Wirral Waters, due to open in September.

As work nears completion, the Minister was able to take a tour of the multi-million pound campus, which will be the first key landmark on Wirral Waters, one half of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone.  During his visit, the Minister met Wirral Met College Principal Sue Higginson, Deputy Chairman of Peel Group Neil Lees, Robert Hough, Chair, Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and area director of Morgan Sindall plc, Barry Roberts.

The Minister was able to hear first-hand how the new campus will form a key role in the regeneration of the local economy.  Dedicated to providing teaching and learning facilities for construction and the built environment, Wirral Met’s Wirral Waters campus will be instrumental in training young people so that they can become the future workforce for this exciting development which will continue over the coming 30 years.  Furthermore, local employers will be supported by the college’s Employer Services team, also based at the new campus, to provide them with the skills development to meet the needs of their business.

Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse James Wharton said: “Investment and innovation are at the heart of Enterprise Zones and the Wirral Metropolitan College project is a testament to what can be achieved when the public and private sector work together to support businesses and create jobs.
“What is really gratifying to see is the way this development is not only creating much needed jobs, but also creating the very skills we need to ensure the success of the Northern Powerhouse now and into the future.”

Sue Higginson, Principal at Wirral Met College, explained, “It is really appropriate that the first building in this area is a college campus that has been specifically designed to train and educate a highly skilled construction workforce.  Because of this, the workforce can be ‘home grown’ local people who can then benefit from the jobs created to build the rest of the Wirral Waters’ vision. I can think of no greater example of engaging local people in transforming their own community.  Around 300 of our students have already been involved in each step of the project and this is, I believe, an exemplary partnership where the College, Peel and Morgan Sindall have worked together closely throughout every stage of the design and construction phases.  We have also enjoyed partnership support from the LEP and the Local Authority, who have been actively promoting and supporting the development of Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone including the important role that we play, as a College, in providing education and skills that meet the needs of employers, including those that we plan to attract to become part of the new Enterprise Zone.”

Richard Mawdsley, Director of Development at Wirral Waters: “The Minister’s visit comes at an important time in Wirral Waters progress. The first two buildings are near completion. We are proud that the first new build in Wirral Waters, Wirral Met College, is focused on applied skills for young people.  We’ve been able to capitalise on the tools that the Enterprise Zone brings – these are essential to generate development activity in this area.  The key now is for partners to accelerate delivery momentum and help deliver the pipeline of forthcoming projects in order for this Enterprise Zone to fulfill its potential in the Northern Powerhouse.”

Robert Hough, Chair, Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Enterprise Zones are a key feature of the Government’s local growth and Northern Powerhouse agenda, offering incentives for businesses to locate and grow at these key locations. This visit was an important and timely opportunity for the Minister to see first-hand the significant value of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone as a key strategic initiative which will create multiple job opportunities and boost growth for our City Region.

“It was also an opportunity to demonstrate the power of a strong partnership approach between the LEP, Peel and the local authorities.”

Cllr Phil Davies, Leader of Wirral Council said: “Wirral is a place where business wants to invest and thrive. As the only area in the NW with CORE rating, we are already acknowledged as the home of the Sustainable Energy industry - supporting offshore wind projects and manufacturing for UK nuclear industry; our river and port access is part of the Mersey Gateway to the Atlantic and we have a strong claim to be the preferred location for investment in advanced manufacturing in food science, automotive parts and light engineering. I’m delighted the Minister has been able to see for himself the remarkable achievements we have already secured and look forward to his Government’s support in helping Wirral and the wider Merseyside region achieve its devolution goals."

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