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Scepticism about growth potential of "enterprise zones"

The government today announced 11 new "enterprise zones" but there is doubt as to whether new jobs w

The government has announced the location of 11 more so-called "enterprise zones", brining to 21 the total number of sites marked out for redevelopment.

The Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, spoke on the BBC's Today Programme this morning of the government's plan to "rebalance" the economy and "reduce dependency on the financial industry" by investing in local, targeted redevelopment programmes.

He said the enterprise zones will target "specific sites against specific industries against specific proposals". Answering presenter James Naughtie's question about the North-South divide, where economic growth and prosperity is disproportionately focused in the South East of England, Pickles said the government's plans would help revitalise manufacturing in the North.

Enterprise zones will combine tax breaks, looser planning regulation and faster broadband in certain areas in order to encourage job creation and business venture. The government has estimated that 30,000 jobs will be created by 2015 as a result of the enterprise zones.

However, there is much scepticism about the potential of enterprise zones to create jobs and lead to economic growth. Similar ventures were undertaken by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, but rather than creating new jobs, they tended to "displace" old ones, according to the Chair of the West Midlands Institute of Directors, John Rider.

Naughtie also raised the point that, as jobs are being haemorrhaged in the public sector, 30,000 new private sector jobs - if the target is even reached - may not do much to address unemployment.

The new enterprise zones are in Cambridgeshire; Cornwall; Gosport; Harlow; Hereford; Humber Estuary; Newquay; Great Yarmouth, Norfolk; Northampton; Hinckley, Leicestershire; Sandwich, Kent; Oxfordshire; Runcorn; and Lowestoft, Suffolk.