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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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£500,000 boost for Morecambe Bay transformation bid

A GRANT of £500,000 has been secured to develop plans to attract tourists to Morecambe Bay.

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TRANSFORMATION TIME Susannah Bleakley, inset, from the Morecambe Bay Partnership, says cash will bring an economic boost to whole area, and will help to conserve sites such as Birkrigg Stone Circle, above

The cash, from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, will enable The Morecambe Bay Partnership to invest in bay-wide tourism projects.

Plans include a 200km cycleway around the edge of the bay, alongside wildlife and archaeological projects, taking in locations in Walney and Birkrigg stone circle near Ulverston.

Susannah Bleakley, from the Morecambe Bay Partnership, said: “This is great news for the Bay area. We hope this will bring an economic boost to the whole area, support over 260 tourism-related jobs and safeguard many thousands more.

“The funding will be used to connect and sign a 200Km ‘Bay Cycle Way’, deliver events, develop trails and apps to improve information for visitors, and to provide more than 300 training places to support tourism businesses.

“Our Scheme is called ‘700 Days to transform the Bay’ – the money is time-limited, we have just two years to deliver”

It is hoped the project will attract international tourism to Walney’s military heritage which includes Fort Walney, practice trenches, a concrete coastal searchlight emplacement and a rifle range.

The cash could also be used to buy all-terrain vehicles so that disabled people can explore Walney, and to fund cultural heritage ideas, including an ‘adopt a monument’ project to help conserve the prehistoric Birkrigg stone circle.

Cllr Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for economy and highways, said: “The visitor economy is one of Cumbria’s key sectors with potential for sustainable growth.

“We are delighted to see 700 Days go ahead – this imaginative scheme will help to open up the Bay area, not least through the development of a Bay Cycle Route, and also provide visitors with more information and a greater overall visitor experience.”

The scheme could deliver a three per cent uplift in tourism spend and employment by end of 2016.

This works out at an increase in tourism revenue of £15m, which equates to 268 new indirect jobs around the Bay with a further 8,200 jobs safeguarded.

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