RDA claim jobs will emerge from 'muddy field'

Date published: 19 September 2008

Rochdale Devlopment Agency has responded to an article in satirical magazine 'Private Eye', which claimed that the Kingsway Business Park was still nothing more than a muddy field, by saying that there is positive interest in the development and that they are dealing with several major enquiries.

The Private Eye article, in its typical style, was critical of a recent publicity campaign which promoted the job opportunities that would be available to Rochdale residents.

The 'Rotten Boroughs' column read: “Desperate measures by bosses at the Rochdale Development Agency who want to sell their 420 acre Kingsway Business Park to sceptical locals – a ‘lucky duck’ stand which offered entry into a prize draw to win £50 of high street shopping vouchers. Entrants were asked to ‘hook-a-duck’ and answer multiple choice questions about the benefits and job opportunities at the park. One small problem – there aren’t any!

“Claims that Kingsway would secure £300m in private investment from businesses and host 7,250 jobs have proved to be nothing short of un canard. Instead, three years and £30m of public money on, Kingsway remains a muddy field, one corner of which contains large metal sheds. So far only one medium sized enterprise has moved in. Plans for a hotel on the site fell through.

“The RDA has form. In February it announced the opening of a £1.8m office block – sorry, ‘local enterprise zone’ – called Lock 50. Alas, RDA could find not a single interested business, so they moved in themselves. Lucky ducks!”

Responding to the article, John Hudson, the Chief Executive of RDA, said: "We don’t want to 'duck' fair criticism but this Private Eye story is a little short-sighted. We have always been honest that Kingsway is at the start of a 15 year journey.

"Perhaps even our anonymous critic would accept that there is global economic slowdown, but both Kingsway and the Lock 50 are investments in Rochdale’s economic future as well as a source of much needed new jobs.

"There is positive interest in Kingsway and we are dealing with several major enquiries. Meanwhile it is right for us to engage with local people about Kingsway and what it has to offer them and their children; we make no apologies for that.”

The RDA has come in for further criticism from Rochdale's Labour Parliamentary Candidate Simon Danczuk. Mr Danczuk accused the RDA of making a mockery of Rochdale and asked them to stop adopting such an evasive position on job opportunities and to give people straight answers. He said: "People want jobs, not vague promises of the future and rosy rhetoric about their ‘exciting plans’. I am very concerned that their actions are leading to Rochdale being made to look stupid in the national media.”

Rochdale Online understands that the RDA will make details known as soon as they are legally able to do so - talks with some businesses are believed to be at an advanced stage.

Mr Danczuk added that he would be seeking a meeting with the chief executive of the North West Development Agency at the earliest opportunity to raise his concerns.

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