The First Freeport Customs Site In The North-West Opens In The Liverpool Borough Of St. Helens
Haydock is now home to the North West's first Customs Site, part of the Liverpool City Region Freeport, in the continued bid to streamline importing and exporting goods into the one Authority as opposed to numerous different authorities.
This iteration of the new Freeport initiative is taking more ambitious steps at including the whole of the Liverpool City Region as well as key strategic areas outside of the Bay Area, including the Port of Salford in Greater Manchester.
The Liverpool City Region Freeport is a major step closer to being open for business with government approval of SSO International Freight Forwarding as the Freeport’s first Customs Site Operator.
The news means that the Freeport will be officially open as soon as the government has accepted the final action points from the full business case, which will in turn release £25m in funding to be spent locally.
This move is being seen as a major step forward in streamlining the importing and exporting process, creating quality local jobs and developing upon the government's value placed on the Liverpool City Region as a whole.
Once fully open, it is estimated that the Freeport could create more than 14,000 new highly skilled jobs, deliver £800m of investment and generate an additional £850m of GVA for the Liverpool City Region’s economy.
Mayor of the Six Boroughs of the Liverpool City Reigon, Steve Rotheram, and local leaders from across the City Region have been clear throughout the entire Freeport bidding process that the region is pursuing this for the opportunities it will bring for regeneration and building on expanding our capacity in areas such as research and development – and not to pursue a race to the bottom.
The Mayor has said throughout that that he would not accept any dilution of workers’ rights, safety practices or regulatory standards.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: 'Throughout the process, I’ve been clear that I will only use our Freeport as a force for good, to help build an economy that works for everyone in our region. I want to attract investment into our region who believe in and support our local ambitions – those who will help us to protect workers’ rights and uphold standards, and who want to work with us to deliver regeneration and funding in the areas that need it most.'
Mayor Rotheram added: 'The establishment of the Liverpool City Region Freeport has the potential help our drive to attract international investment, create more well-paid, highly skilled jobs for local people and build on our existing strengths. It is estimated that the Freeport will add £850m to the local economy and contribute towards our plans to boost research and development and target green technologies to help us reach net zero by 2040 at the latest.'
He, said: 'But, for us, it means much more than that. I want to ensure that there is purpose behind this status that not only drives our economy, but fuels greater social mobility, innovation, and inclusion for our whole region – including the integration of our Fair Employment Charter.'
Mayor Rotheram, said: 'Today, those plans have taken another step forward. I will be pressing for it to be up and running as soon as possible so local people and communities can begin to feel the benefits.'
Louise di Blasi, Liverpool City Region Freeport Customs Consultant, said: 'It is fantastic news that SSO International have achieved this status and I fully expect them to be the first of many, particularly as more companies see the competitive advantages available to them. Having been in the development stage for so long we are tantalisingly close to having our Freeport up and running, which will deliver tremendous benefits to the city region’s economy, creating thousands of high-quality jobs and boosting growth and prosperity.'
SSO international Forwarding’s relocation to the Haydock warehouse in 2021 was supported with a £125,000 loan from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Flexible Growth Fund.
Angus Hirst, Head of Customs at SSO International Forwarding, said: 'Becoming the first Customs Site Operator for the Liverpool City Region Freeport is brilliant news for us as a company and even better news for our customers, who will be able to take advantage of the many tax and customs benefits this opens up to them.'
He added: 'The process of applying for this status rigorous but we’ve received great support from the Combined Authority’s Freeport team and I’d encourage other companies thinking about taking this step to go for it.'