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Slough Conservatives seek 'freeport' status for town after Brexit

A request has been made for Slough to be given special status which could entitle the town to customs and tax benefits when the UK leaves the European Union.

Slough’s Conservative Group wants the town to be included in a proposed Government scheme which could see the establishment of up to 10 freeports across the country.

Under Government plans, freeports would be designated as free-trade areas which would be exempt from tax and tariff rules applied elsewhere.

The scheme is specifically aimed at ports and airports across the country.

Lee Pettman, chairman of the Slough Conservative Association, said: “We believe that Slough, with its connections to the wider world through Heathrow, its strategic location advantage at the meeting point of the three busiest motorways in the country, its diverse globally-connected communities and strong commercial base, is well placed to be at the centre of Government plans to super-charge our country’s global economy once we leave the Euro-pean Union on October 31.”

The Slough Conservative Group wrote to Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on Tuesday outlining its proposals for Slough.

But Labour council leader Cllr James Swindlehurst ridiculed the suggestion, saying that Slough was neither a port nor an airport.

He said: “Government has certainly not asked private residents claiming to speak on behalf of people, businesses and a town they do no represent in any official capacity to ask for this status, nor has it indicated it is willing to accept bids from non port towns and cities.”

When asked about Slough’s eligibility for the freeports scheme, Mr Pettman said the proposals were ‘open to interpretation’.

Last month, Andrew Clooney, group manager for consumer protection at Slough Borough Council’s trading standards team, warned councillors about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit on the movement of unchecked goods into the town.

He said increased pressure could be heaped on the trading standards team if goods were no longer checked at the European Union border.

The Government has said it hopes to establish up to 10 freeports when the UK leaves the European Union on its target date of October 31.

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