GOVERNMENT funding will be crucial to ensure councils are not overstretched by the arrival of the Agratas Gigafactory, Somerset's Labour leader has said.

Agratas, Tata Group’s global battery business, confirmed on Wednesday, February 28, that it will build a Gigafactory on the Gravity Smart Campus in Puriton, near Bridgwater in what will be a £4 billion investment.

The 40 GWh factory, which will create up to 4,000 new jobs, is set to be the biggest battery factory in the country.

Cllr Leigh Redman, Leader of the Labour Group on Somerset Council, and Bridgwater Town Councillor, welcomed the announcement, but warned that along with the many benefits of the factory, Somerset Council will be unable to support local authorities if they become overstretched.

“Somerset Labour is over the moon following the announcement of the Gigafactory sited in the heart of our county, we fully support the proposed investment in Somerset and see it as a long term benefit for every corner of our community," Cllr Redman said.

“This investment at Gravity will create a significant number of long term, high value, well paid jobs for local people to access, at the same time helping continue the education opportunities that started with Hinkley Point C, giving local people of every age further opportunities to learn or reskill. 

"We lose too many young people who are forced to move away to learn, often resulting in them staying away to work."

“We need to better understand the business rate retention mechanism and funding options, particularly in the current financial situation that Somerset council finds itself, that forms part of the agreement.

"We will need financial support from government to ensure local council funding is not impacted negatively, Somerset Council's budget can not support any further unnecessary strain."

“Somerset Council Labour group looks forward to working with Agratas, partners and officers on this exciting project.”