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Marine Management Organisation: Location

Volume 488: debated on Friday 27 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 82-84WS, on the Marine Management Organisation’s headquarters, what assessment he has made of the suitability of Plymouth as a site for the Marine Management Organisation’s headquarters. (258571)

[holding answer 25 February 2009]: In a transparent and fair process which involved stakeholders in drawing up a set of business and quality of life criteria and the consultancy firm KPMG carrying out an independent assessment against these criteria, Plymouth was selected as one of the six shortlisted locations for the Marine Management Organisation’s headquarters. The criteria used to arrive at the shortlist, and subsequently tested through site visits and presentations from the locations, were:

Business needs for the MMO HQ such as availability of skilled work force and good transport links.

Cost and value for money.

Government policies on location of public sector bodies.

Quality of Life factors including cost of living, education, employment, healthcare.

As well as carrying out site visits to further test locations against these criteria, all shortlisted locations were given the opportunity to present their case to be the home of the MMO HQ and I met with MPs from all the shortlisted locations. Plymouth presented a strong case and, like all of the shortlisted locations, would have been a good home for the MMO HQ, allowing the MMO to meet its business needs and benefit from local marine expertise, organisational networks and academic links.

However, Tyneside demonstrated the strongest and most comprehensive case to be the home of the organisation and provides a location from which the organisation can best achieve its aims. Among other factors, Tyneside has a broad range and good balance of marine interests with a working port, all of which fit well with the role of the MMO. Tyneside also provides strong transport links in terms of access to key stakeholders in London, Brussels and Scotland. There was a compelling demonstration of support from a wide range of stakeholders across the North East region, a region which has benefited little to date from the Lyons Review in respect of the relocation of public sector employment. The extensive evidence of partnership working in the area provided confidence that Tyneside had actively considered the bespoke requirements of the MMO with regard to its role under the Marine and Coastal Access Bill.