It’s an exciting time for my constituency. In the last month I’ve been to three major launches, the launch of Hitachi, the opening of a new leisure and activity centre ROF59, and the launch of East Durham Trust’s job clubs. Each of these openings and launches means good news for local people.
I have already spoken about Hitachi and what it means to me and the area, but being at the launch really was a dream come true. It's been a fantastic journey and I'm extremely proud of what has been achieved - a lot of work by a lot of people - it was a very proud day for me as Sedgefield MP. International business plays an incredibly important role in building strong local, regional and national economies and Hitachi is an example to us all about how essential these partnerships and developments are. 730 jobs are being created with many more in the supply chain. This type of investment can be a game changer to places like County Durham and I hope to see more businesses like Hitachi coming to the region in the future.
It’s not just international business that can be a game changer. ROF 59 is a £1.1m, 70,000 sq. ft. mixed-leisure complex and opened its doors last week, creating 20 new jobs. The former World War II munitions factory, on Durham Way South, Aycliffe Business Park has been transformed to provide a 21st Century activity centre for thrill-seeking people of all ages.
The owners, Finley Structures are a local business and have brought the former ammunition factory back to life with a 10-month overhaul to produce a superb entertainment venue.
I was really impressed walking around the centre and seeing the transformation that it had undergone. It consists of a Climbing Centre featuring 20 walls – one standing 20 metres tall – and a series of adventure walls. I am told the climbing wall is one of the biggest in the country and is sure to attract people from all over the region.
For adults ROF 59 featured a plush new bar/lounge, called “The Bunker”, as well as a fine-dining restaurant named “The Blitz”. They are both of the highest quality and I’m certain will become a destination point for the thousands of residents that live within Aycliffe and the surrounding areas. Finley Structures have done an amazing job and the company is a testament to what our local businesses are capable of achieving.
All of this development is excellent, it is important there is an opportunity for everyone to get on. There are sadly some in our communities that are excluded from the opportunities these new developments create because they maybe don’t have the right skills, confidence or experience. There are still too many people unemployed in the constituency and find it hard to find work. It was therefore my pleasure to be able to open two new jobs clubs in Trimdon and in Wingate.
The clubs ran by East Durham Trust provide support, training and skills development to enable people outside the jobs market to get back into employment. I met one of these women at the launch who told me she had been unemployed for 16 years until the jobs club helped her find employment by building her skills and confidence to move into the workplace. I hope the jobs club can help many more people in the coming year.
It’s been an encouraging month and I assure you, this is only the beginning of great things for Sedgefield.