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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Millions set to be invested in projects across Cumbria

MILLIONS of pounds could be pumped into economy-boosting projects across Cumbria including Barrow’s waterfront project and access to South Ulverston thanks to government funding.

Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership has today(1) unveiled its Strategic Economic Plan - its vision for the county using its share of £2bn in government and European funding.

The plan details a number of projects which aim to boost the Cumbrian economy, including two major schemes in Barrow and Ulverston.

The LEP, run by a board of private and public sector members, hopes to reinvigorate Barrow’s waterfront project with more than £5m, to undertake groundworks to prepare the land as well as provide reduced tax rates for any businesses that choose to relocate to the site.

In Ulverston, funding would be used to improve access in the south of the town, with the intention of creating better infrastructure ahead of GSK’s biopharm facility.

The plan also promises that, if the funding is provided, 30,000 homes will be built across Cumbria, visitor expenditure in the county will be increased by more than £500m a year and 100 per cent coverage of superfast broadband will be achieved Cumbria-wide.

The economic plan, unveiled by the LEP’s chair George Beveridge, is Cumbria’s ‘deal’ with the government - what it intends to give back in return for capital funding.

It’s very much a deal,” Mr Beveridge told the Evening Mail.

“It’s not grants aimed at deprivation. It’s who has the most attractive growth opportunities and how the government can support that and in Cumbria we have an exceptional opportunity on an Olympic scale.”

South Lakeland District Council leader Peter Thornton, who represents Barrow and Ulverston on the LEP, added that it was a chance for Cumbria to speak with one voice.

“Every LEP across the country will pitch their best deal forward to the Government - and that is what we are doing in Cumbria,” Councillor Thornton said.

“We are saying ‘give us this money, because this is what we can do with it.”

The plan has been welcomed by business leaders in South Cumbria.

Pat McIver, site biopharm lead at GSK in Ulverston, said: “We are pleased to see advanced manufacturing in Ulverston recognised in the Strategic Plan as an important economic driver for Cumbria.

“We believe the potential to secure investment to unlock employment land in South Ulverston is enhanced by the inclusion of the proposed road infrastructure improvements.”

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “I have been struck particularly by the different people who have worked together to strike deals that are best for their local area. Local politicians of all parties, historically not always the most harmonious of bedfellows, have cooperated with businesses, educational institutions and other local organisations for the economic benefit of their economic area.

“This cooperation has been extended as every LEP has developed its Strategic Economic Plan, and provides a template for turning every part of the country into an engine of growth. I look forward to announcing the Growth Deals in the summer.”

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