By Daniel Hunter
From Milford Haven’s bustling port and estuary, to Pembroke’s growing small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Wales Office ministers will this week see the important role that Pembrokeshire businesses — large and small — are playing in the rebalancing of the Welsh economy.
During a two-day tour of Pembrokeshire (18-19 April), the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones MP and Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb MP will visit companies in Milford Haven and Pembroke continuing to support jobs and sustain growth in the area.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Jones said: “This will be my first visit to west Wales since the Chancellor announced his budget statement last month. That was a Budget for business and jobs, and I’m looking forward to hearing how the measures announced have been received by the businesses we will be visiting this week.
“The reduction in the headline rate of corporation tax and a new employment allowance will provide a key boost - particularly to our smaller and medium sized businesses, of which we have many here in Wales. The progressive reduction in corporation tax will give the UK he most competitive rate in the western world, and will provide an incentive for those looking to invest in Wales.”
Day one of the visit will focus on the Milford Haven estuary where ministers will see how the opportunities provided through the Welsh Government’s Haven Waterway enterprise zone are enabling the area to maximise its potential as a leading energy centre.
Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb said: “The Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone presents an extremely important opportunity for the area and the wider economy of west Wales. This area is of particular strategic importance for the UK’s energy industry, and we are looking forward to hearing first hand how the zone could help to support jobs and attract further business investment.”
Mr Jones and Mr Crabb will first visit and tour Valero’s refinery in Pembroke Dock, where Vice President and general manager, Ed Tomp will lead a presentation on the refinery’s activity, alongside the Operations Committee. They will then be given a guided tour of the site.
Mr Tomp said: “Valero are delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Wales and Mr Crabb, to Valero’s Pembroke Refinery. The site plays an important role in Wales’ economy, providing investment and hundreds of highly skilled jobs. We look forward to sharing this real Welsh success story to the Ministers.”
The party will then travel across the estuary to Murco’s refinery in Milford Haven where they will be met by general manager, Ken Jinkerson and members of the Strategic Management team, where they will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the oil industry.
Mr Jinkerson said: “Milford Haven Refinery is very pleased to host a visit from the Secretary of State for Wales and our local MP Stephen Crabb. It gives us the opportunity to discuss the significant achievements that have been made at the refinery over the past three years against an extremely challenging legislative background.”
With a view to learning more about the strategic and economic benefits that ports can bring to Wales, Mr Jones and Mr Crabb will round off day one with a visit to Milford Haven Port Authority.
The Port of Milford Haven is the third largest port in the UK and the biggest in Wales, handling over 29% of Britain’s seaborne trade in oil and gas.
The party will meet with senior executives to discuss how the work of the port supports jobs and revenue in the area, before undertaking a tour of the haven estuary by boat.
Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, Alec Don said: “It’s immensely encouraging to meet with the ministers and explain the vital role the Port of Milford Haven plays in the economy of Wales. There are exciting times ahead too, with the investment opportunities that the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone provides.
"We are looking forward to establishing a close working collaboration with the Wales Office, the Welsh Government and other lead partners to deliver on our own plans for investment within the Enterprise Zone, that we believe have the potential to generate £1bn of investment and 1,000 jobs”
On Friday (19 April), the focus of the two-day visit will turn to supporting the growth of the tourism and SME sector in Wales.
The Secretary of State will meet with representatives from Tenby Hotel School — a partnership between Cardiff Metropolitan University and social enterprise Tenby Development Trust which offers university students degrees in the hospitality industry. He will also meet with the new Park Director of Oakwood Theme Park, Dominic Jones who will brief the Secretary of State on the park’s latest recruitment drive following a £4million investment in new attractions and rides.
Later, the Secretary of State will visit Pembrokeshire Science and Technology Park based software company Torquing Group. The company is divided into three parts - Torquing Technology, which provides software solutions; Torquing Robotics, which specialises in autonomous robots; and Torquing Environmental, whose focus is on environmental monitoring for businesses. Managing director, Ivan Reedman will brief Mr Jones on the company’s plans for growth and their work on specialist robotics.
Mr Reedman said: “I’m delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for a tour of our specialist robotics engineering SME and brief him on the exciting projects we are working on. We aim to bring benefits - not only to Pembrokeshire - but the Welsh and UK economies as a whole, through the creation of leading edge technology to advance manufacturing of the products we have developed.”
Welsh Secretary, David Jones added: “Torquing Group’s work is an excellent example of a successful small business with their sights firmly set on growth and expansion. The importance of assisting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises with growth potential in an area where they make a significant contribution to the future sustainability of the local economy cannot be overstated.”
Mr Jones will then visit Ledwood Mechanical Engineering Ltd (LMEL) in Pembroke Dock. Formed in 1983, it is one of the UK’s leading independent engineering, fabrication and construction companies. Ledwood’s core business is focussed on providing multi-discipline engineering and design to a diverse industry base including petrochemical producers and processors and defence industries, marine industries and power generators. The visit comes as the company celebrates 30 years of operation in Wales.
Managing Director of Ledwood Engineering, Nick Revell said: “The visit will provide both parties with an opportunity to better understand the economic challenges that face certain industry sectors, and how key stakeholders are able to successfully develop strategies in partnership to provide sustainability and growth for SMEs in Wales.
“We look forward to providing an insight of the portfolio of services we provide and examples of our achievements, both in domestic and international markets.”
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