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Serco says it will invest in its fire safety centre at Durham Tees Valley Airport
AN international firm, which runs a fire training business at a North-East airport, has re-affirmed its commitment to the troubled aviation base despite a major Government funding snub.
The cash would have supported 1,400 jobs by creating an aircraft recycling, firefighter training and freight services hub on land south of the runway.
Under the plans, Serco wanted to expand its fire training business, which has operated at the airport since 1981, by building a new £7.4m complex that would have featured training rigs, a virtual reality tests centre and accommodation for trainees.
However, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg turned down the regional growth fund cash bid, a decision branded short-sighted by Sedgefield Labour MP Phil Wilson.
But despite the rejection, Gary Watson, business operations manager at Serco's international fire training centre, told The Northern Echo it remained committed to the North-East site.
He said: “The plans to build a new purpose-built fire training centre headquarters are on hold.
“However, Serco is currently planning to invest in the refurbishment of the existing building and will continue to work with Peel Holdings and other stakeholders to bring investment to the region.”
The backing for airport came as Serco unveiled its half-year results, amid reports it could face a block on Government contract bids after alleged fraudulent behaviour by some staff on a £285m prisoner escorting contract with the Ministry of Justice.
A report showed pre-tax profits had increased to £127m, with revenues rising by 12 per cent to £2.5bn.
Christopher Hyman, Serco chief executive, said the company was well placed to continue its growth, adding it would put right any issues arising from any Government investigations.
He said: “Our strong performance has met expectations, and the outlook remains positive. “We are working closely with Government customers on their ongoing reviews of our contracts, and pride ourselves on delivering services that matter to people around the world.”
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