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Cambridge 'needs cash more than Liverpool'
Cambridge, rather than Britain's northern cities of Birmingham and Liverpool, should be the first to benefit from Lord Heseltine's regional reforms, George Freeman, the Coalition's advisor on life sciences, has said.

The MP for Mid-Norfolk reckons the East Anglian city needs "£1bn investment, now" to ensure the health and growth of its burgeoning biotech and IT companies, which he claims is ready to generate "real" economic growth for the UK.

Mr Freeman, who worked in bioscience for 15 years before becoming an MP, told The Daily Telegraph: "Birmingham and Liverpool and the great northern cities that Lord Heseltine is trying to help are important. But Cambridge is the biggest growth City in the British economy. But it's basically a medieval market town - it needs £1bn investment today; it needs the Oxford-Cambridge-Norwich railway line electrified, now."

In a report called "No Stone Unturned", Lord Heseltine said the Government should pool billions of pounds of regional spending into a single fund in a bid to decentralise public spending and boost economic growth outside London. He said regional authorities should have to compete with each other for funding for transport, skills and housing developments.

The 80-year-old Tory grandee said he wanted to see the "great cities of the North" revitalised and re-energized for economic growth.

In the Budget two weeks ago, George Osborne, the Chancellor, said the Government had decided to adopt 81 out of 89 of Lord Heseltine's suggestions.

Mr Freeman plans to meet Lord Heseltine immediately to ask for funding to boost Cambridge, which is already home to more than 1,500 biotech firms.

"We need fast rail links to London to Oxford and Norwich," said Freeman. "Investors needs to be able to get around, people need to be able to live in neighbouring counties and be able to travel to be part of the world's biggest biotech cluster. The planning [in Cambridge] is being done by a County Council that's never been given proper resources.

"Boy, do we need the Heseltine vision here - we should have a development panel to get this going while keeping Cambridge beautiful and a £1bn for infrastructure. I'm going to see Heseltine next week."

Two weeks ago AstraZeneca, the FTSE 100 pharmaceutical giant, announced it was moving its headquarters to Cambridge.

Derek Jones, chief executive of the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge. which is currently incubating 44 start-up companies, said: "For the bio-science industry, the AstraZeneca relocation is fantastic, it's a great reflection of the growth and importance here. In terms of infrastructure, it's a bit more problematic - how does Cambridge cope with so many people?"

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