Rt Hon Ruth Kelly is to be the inaugural Chair of Thames Freeport* starting immediately.
As a former Secretary of State, she commands a deep knowledge of government and a strong grasp of the logistics sector, which will help drive forward the Freeport’s transformation programmes to increase knowledge transfer, skills development and clean growth.
Rt Hon Ruth Kelly served as MP for Bolton West from 1997 until she stood down in 2010. During this period, she served as Secretary of State for Transport, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Secretary of State for Education and Skills and Minister for Women and Equalities, as well as holding ministerial roles in HM Treasury. Since leaving Parliament, she has held roles at HSBC Global Asset Management and St Mary’s University. As Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at St Mary’s, she spearheaded the delivery of a transformational vision, ‘Vision 2025: St Mary’s plan for the future’.
Rt Hon Ruth Kelly, Chair of Thames Freeport, commented: “I’m pleased to lead a coalition of public sector partners and businesses at the forefront of their industries during a period of seismic change. The Freeport will create an irresistible investment platform around our world-class ports – London Gateway and Tilbury – that will deliver a step-change in terminal capacity, supply chain resilience and manufacturing capability for UK plc.
“The Freeport will drive fresh large-scale inward investment, while driving regeneration in areas of need across our region and creating a centre of excellence for the country as we electrify, automate and digitise our future.”
Thames Freeport is a digitally linked economic zone connecting Ford’s world-class Dagenham engine plant, the global ports at London Gateway and Tilbury, and many communities in urgent need of ‘levelling-up’. 20% of the UK’s most deprived communities are in London and the South East. Businesses looking to expand are being urged to take advantage of the tax benefits of relocating to the Freeport and being part of a customs zone, which will enable the businesses to continue to have low friction trade processes with the EU and global markets.
No location can match Thames Freeport for access to rail, road, river and international maritime routes. Comprising Britain’s most globally connected ports and logistics park and Ford’s world-class engine plant, Thames Freeport represents a faster, more cost-effective, and more environmentally responsible way to service domestic and European markets. Ford Dagenham is London’s largest manufacturing site.
As part of The Budget on Wednesday 27 October, the Thames Freeport partners welcomed the announcement that the freeport will begin operations from November. Thames Freeport is open for business.
*Thames Freeport’s formal commercial launch took place at an event at The Savoy Hotel, London, in the presence of Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP and Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP on Wednesday 15th September. The Freeport has already seen the £300 million announcement by DP World that work will begin shortly on a new fourth berth at its London Gateway logistics hub to increase supply chain resilience and create more capacity for the world’s largest vessels.