• Author:Ben Jones
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Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses business leaders at the Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn

THE SHADOW foreign secretary has lauded a Runcorn science hub as an ‘inspiring story’ during a trip to the town.

Having toured the Heath Business and Technical Park (BTP), former Conservative leader William Hague gave a speech to a packed lecture theatre and spoke to the site’s directors about their expansion plans. SOG Ltd, owner and operator of the park, revealed that the company intends to add 180,000 sq ft of offices to the 60-acre site, and boost the workforce from 2,000 to 3,000 within the next five years.

It also wants to use the Heath as a blueprint for regenerating sites around the country. Mr Hague, who will be responsible for promoting UK interests overseas if the Conservatives triumph in the General Election, follows a list of political heavyweights to pass through the park, including Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, Gordon Brown, business minister Ian Pearson, science minister Lord Drayson and former ministers Lord Heseltine and Lord Sainsbury.

Mr Hague said: “I think it really is an inspiring story of how businesses can be developed and how science and skills can be kept together.

“It’s one I certainly did not know enough about. Now I want to make sure that George Osborne and Ken Clarke hear about what you have done here and told me about this morning.

“You have done all of this in a way that provides great employment and use of skills here in the North West without Government subsidies – in fact you have been subsiding the Government for the past 10 years.

“You are paying into the economy rather than taking out of it and that really is a model that we have to follow in other areas in the future.

“I hope a lot can be learned from what you have been achieving. I’m sure it can be and, if we are in Government, we will want to encourage that.”

Halton Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Ben Jones added: “It was great to welcome William to Runcorn to see how businesses are innovating to create jobs and prosperity in our community.

“This is the sort of enterprise which will help us to build on the recovery and take our economy forward.

“The Heath’s success has been built not on Government money, but on local business leaders’ ambition, vision, and ingenuity. It’s been a truly inspiring success.”