CHANCELLOR George Osborne spoke of his optimism for the region when he visited the JCB factory in Wrexham.

Yesterday’s visit tied in with an announcement that JCB had secured a deal worth almost £14 million and will be recruiting 22 shopfloor employees at the site.

Mr Osborne also spoke of his hope for businesses in Flintshire and Wrexham following the announcement £10million of funding will be allocated to help roll out superfast broadband in Wales.

Accompanying the Chancellor on his visit was the Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan.

Speaking to the Leader about the boost for JCB, Mr Osborne said: “Prices around the world are going up but the good news is that here in North Wales manufacturing is going well.

“Two years ago this factory was laying people off and now it is taking people on.”

JCB Transmission, based on Wrexham Industrial Estate, will manufacture axles and gearboxes for more than half the products ordered for the new multi-million pound contract with Kent based H.E. Services.

As well as the new jobs on the shopfloor in Wrexham, JCB is also recruiting up to 80 engineers across the UK, a handful of whom will be based at the Wrexham site.

JCB chief executive Alan Blake said the company’s recent success was down to its improvement in fuel efficiency.

He said: “Not only does JCB produce a world-leading engine in terms of productivity, our transmissions manufactured here at Wrexham are the most efficient around.

“This year has certainly got off to a flying start for JCB; our order books are in their healthiest position for four years and at this stage the outlook for the rest of 2011 is extremely promising.”

During his visit the Chancellor defended the impact of spending cuts being made across Flintshire and Wrexham.

He said: “The national credit card has run out of money.

“If we don’t deal with it there will be more job losses in North Wales and we will be back to where we were a couple of years ago.”

He added: “The funding we have announced for superfast broadband should help businesses in rural areas.

“This funding will support the Welsh economy and help drive the private sector-led recovery by driving innovation and commercial opportunities in communities across Wales.”

Clwyd South councillor Paul Rogers described the visit as “recognition of how important manufacturing is to the economy and the people of North East Wales”.

John Bell, Welsh Conservative Assembly candidate for Alyn and Deeside, also met Mr Osborne and said: “The news from JCB is a real shot in the arm for their staff and the economy of North Wales.”

- HAS George Osborne’s visit solved the Prime Minister’s rat problem?

The Leader showed the Chancellor a copy of our story about Rita Manning’s cat Luckie.

Last month we reported how Rita, 75, took in the stray tabby after it turned up at her Shotton home two years ago.

But, after learning about the rat infestation in Downing Street, Rita said she would be happy to lend her cat to David Cameron

Yesterday Mr Osborne said he would personally ask the PM if he would like Luckie. He said: “I am seeing David Cameron later today so I will tell him about Rita Manning and Luckie.

“I know the Cameron family are looking forward to choosing a new cat.”

Rita said she was pleased with Mr Osborne’s response, but said if the Cameron’s took up her offer she would only give them Luckie on a temporary basis.

She said: “If they would like her she’s marvellous with rats. She’s not going there for good though, only on loan.”

Retired nurse Rita also thinks Luckie has a look of George Osborne about her – although the Chancellor said he “didn’t think he was the best person to judge”.

Rita said: “I don’t blame him for not wanting to comment. I do think he looks like Luckie though.

“She’s got that same look in her eyes as him, they’re always alert.”