A LEADING councillor is calling on the county council to present a ‘true picture’ of the level of growth at the Hereford Enterprise Zone.

A total of 38 companies have moved into the Rotherwas site to date and a total of 665 people work there, according to figures aired at last week’s cabinet meeting.

But speaking at the meeting, It’s Our County co-leader said only six of those firms had come from outside the county and only around a third of those jobs were new.

“Of the 32 that are from within Herefordshire, 25 of those were already existing in the city and have just relocated from elsewhere in Rotherwas or the city itself,” she said.

“And seven have been drawn in from previously being based in other towns or large villages in the county.

“We are concerned that we are not seeing the amount of employment growth that had been hoped for in terms of new businesses coming into Herefordshire as a consequence of how the Enterprise Zone is being managed.

“Of the 665 people that are being employed there only about a third of those are new job opportunities.

“The rest are just associated with jobs that have been relocated there.

“We are concerned that the true picture associated with the employment on the Enterprise Zone isn’t being properly reflected in how the figures are being presented in the report.”

But Conservative economy & growth member cabinet member David Harlow attacked It’s Our County for being ‘anti-business’.

He said: “I personally am very proud of the fact that it is local businesses that have grown and we should not be ashamed of the fact that local businesses expand and want to take place on the enterprise zone.

“The reason so many of the companies on the Enterprise Zone have Herefordshire roots goes back to we have a very proud military heritage and we have some very talented people that come out of Credenhill.

“A lot of those people are engaged in defence and security. It is a defence and security enterprise zone so is it any surprise that a lot of the companies there have local connections.

“Yes, we would like to get some other investment. The cyber security centre is a partnership with University of Wolverhampton.

“As far as I know that is not in Herefordshire and it will create a lot of jobs.”

A bid to create the Hereford Enterprise Zone was submitted in 2011.

Taxes can be cut and planning rules relaxed at enterprise zones in small areas to attract new businesses and create new jobs.

In Hereford, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership said in 2011 that there would be a business rate discount worth up to £275,000 per eligible business over a five-year period.