Communities Secretary Greg Clark backs regeneration of Stoke-on-T…

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COMMUNITIES Secretary Greg Clark believes regeneration efforts in Stoke-on-Trent are achieving their aims.

Mr Clark visited the Potteries yesterday to monitor the progress of projects such as the City Deal, the Growth Deal and the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, with which he has had personal involvement.

And he said he was pleased with how millions of pounds of Government funding was helping to boost the city’s economy.

Mr Clark said he was particularly encouraged to see the resurgence in the ceramics industry, after visiting Wade Ceramics in Etruria and the Emma Bridgewater factory in Hanley.

The Ceramic Valley EZ, where firms will benefit from tax breaks, is intended to turn Stoke-on-Trent into a global centre for advanced ceramics.

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He said: “The ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent is world famous, but clearly over the years there have been some very difficult times for the people working in it.

“Now we see the area is undergoing regeneration, and how well-placed it is in terms of material science and ceramics, is certainly a huge part of that. It’s a fantastic opportunity. It has been a history of ups and downs and so a lot of people perhaps wonder whether they can build a career in the ceramics industry. The answer, I believe, is an emphatic yes. The days of thousands of people being employed on a particular site may have gone, but advanced materials is an industry that is growing around the world.”

Mr Clark also gave his backing to Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s approach to kick-starting the housing market in the Potteries.

The council is looking to invest £53.5 million into a new housing company, which will look to redevelop sites, such as the 11-acre plot next to the Emma Bridgewater factory.

The site has stood vacant for years following the demise of the Renew North Staffordshire programme.

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Mr Clark added: “The previous approach, involving demolitions across wide areas, was too insensitive.”

His visit came after David Cameron claimed leaving the EU could deal a serious blow to the ceramics industry.

Mr Cameron, who was responding to a question from Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth, said: “Last year we exported £38 million in porcelain and china to the EU. If we were outside the EU without a trade deal and had World Trade Organisation tariffs, there would be a 12 per cent tax.”

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