Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge opposes Thames freeport bid

Margaret Hodge MP outside No 10 Downing Street, central London, after handing in a petition - signed

Dame Margaret Hodge MP has criticised a bid to create a Freeport on the Thames. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Barking and Dagenham Council are teaming up with Ford and Tilbury docks on a bid for the government’s 'freeports' programme.

A successful bid would see a freeport right here in the borough. I don’t think this is a good idea.

Freeports mean slashed taxes and less regulation in a chosen area. The government thinks that this will increase trade, boost employment and spur enterprise.

However, they’ve been tried before and they simply don't work.

Mrs Thatcher developed similar projects in the 1980s. Today, they are widely seen as a big fat failure.

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There was even a freeport in Tilbury as recently as 2012, but it was closed as it did little for the local or national economy.

Freeports don’t create jobs they just shift them from elsewhere in the country. The jobs that do turn up are overwhelmingly low-skilled and low-paid.

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Tax cuts mean that it’s the already wealthy land and business owners that stand to profit the most.

Meanwhile hardworking families will only lose out because less cash is collected in tax, so there is less money for public services.

Freeports are big risks for money laundering and tax evasion too. Low taxes and light touch regulation make freeports an ideal home for wrongdoers.

London is already the number one destination for the world’s crooks and criminals to spend their ill-gotten cash.

A freeport on the Thames would open another gap in our already-stretched defences against dirty money.

Freeports are a failed policy. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that this time things will be any different.

Research has shown that pet food manufacturers are one of the only industries that will benefit. Well, I say that the government has made a dog’s dinner of their freeport plan.

I have always backed big projects to boost Barking and Dagenham. But a freeport is the wrong way to go about growing our local economy.

Ford have a plan to develop their site but they can do it without the freeport.

We need decent jobs for local people without government handouts.

Freeports are against my values and they are against the values of our community. That's why I oppose the bid and I will fight it every step of the way.

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