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MASTER PLAN TO REMOVE THE LABEL OF 'FORMER COALFIELDS'

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A five-year economic plan to rid north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire of the tag 'former coalfields' is being...
A five-year economic plan to rid north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire of the tag 'former coalfields' is being unveiled today.

The initiative, led by the North Derbyshire & North Nottinghamshire Coalfield alliance with support from East Midlands Development Agency (emda), is being launched at Broughton Pumping Station.

At its core are improving skills, attracting more investment and making the area a better place to live. The overall aim is to create somewhere that encourages people to stay and invest rather than move away - for, at present, average hourly earnings are 17% below the national average.

Where once there were dozens of collieries, industrial and business sites will be opened over the next five years, providing space for companies to employ, eventually, up to 32,000 people.

A 'Sherwood technology corridor' between Sutton-in-Ashfield and Ollerton in Nottinghamshire, as well as a regenerated zone in Markham, Derbyshire, will be developed.

Jim Hawkins, who chairs the Alliance, said: 'Our prime aim is to transform this area to ensure it becomes famous for what it is - rather than for what it was.'

Backed by an array of supporters from private business and local councils to training agencies and the police, the plan sets immediate targets - to be achieved within 100 days - as well as others to be met by the year 2005.

The Alliance, the agency and other partners will achieve 17 targets in the short term. They include:

Setting up a rapid response team to come to the aid of companies recruiting in areas where there are few skills Marketing north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire to potential investors under one banner Drawing up a plan to crack down on crime.

Said Councillor Jim Hawkins: 'We want a new, different and more positive focus for this area. It will show that the contribution of the area to the future of the East Midlands economy can be as vibrant, dynamic and innovative as was the industrial past.

'The transition from old to new needs us all to work together to grasp the opportunities that present themselves. We are aiming for an environment in which learning is accessible and reflects the needs of today's and tomorrow's communities and businesses, and where development, transport and new technology allow people to determine the most appropriate ways to work.'

Derek Mapp, who lives in north Derbyshire, said: 'It's imperative that we start making economic gains for this area at once. That's why emda - with all our partners in north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire - is so committed to this plan.'

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