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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Barrow firms part of Cumbria showcase in Westminster today

A MANUFACTURING revolution that has made Cumbria the fourth fastest-growing sub-region in the UK will be showcased in Westminster today.

Organisers hope the event will help cement Cumbria's growing reputation as a leading UK hotspot for advanced manufacturing opportunities alongside its long celebrated tourism and agricultural sectors.

The event is being organised by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and it is being supported by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock.

Five other Cumbrian MPs and local business leaders will complete the party which will bring the county’s manufacturing success story to the attention of government business minister Michael Fallon MP and shadow minister for manufacturing, Iain Wright MP.

The group will also seek assistance from the government in overcoming some obstacles to further improve the companies’ potential to compete on a world stage.

Cumbria Enterprise Partnership Chairman and Sellafield Ltd deputy managing director George Beveridge said: “Advanced manufacturing is one of four key growth priorities highlighted in our new economic strategy for Cumbria.

“It's a little known fact, particularly outside Cumbria, that this sector is 25 per cent of our economy and we see great potential for economic growth and jobs through encouraging exports and supply chain development around our indigenous nuclear and submarine programmes.

“I am delighted to be chairing this event and bringing to government attention the opportunities we have as well as securing support to enable growth.”

John Woodcock MP said: “A new industrial revolution has been taking place across Cumbria over recent years with the potential for even greater growth in prized areas like energy, bio-pharmaceuticals and cutting edge defence manufacturing jobs.

“I am delighted to have been able to help organise this opportunity for our business leaders and Cumbria's local enterprise partnership members to meet the minister. This is an exciting time for our industries - we need to fly the flag and also enlist support to tackle barriers to reaching our potential.

“Improved road and rail transport links along with the need for better superfast broadband and 21st century public services in health and education are examples of what is needed to further grow and sustain businesses in Cumbria.”

Cumbria’s burgeoning reputation as a 21st century beacon for manufacturing is underscored by drugs maker GSK signalling a £350m investment into a bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Ulverston which will create at least 300 new jobs.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “Vince Cable is supporting this event and he is asking government ministers to attend and to listen to us and local businesses.

"Our manufacturing sector is key and we need to do everything we can to support it and help it thrive. At the meeting I will be calling for the government to back my idea for South Lakeland to become a ‘hydro hub’.

"Bringing together businesses like Gilkes, green businesses and the University of Cumbria to create a centre of excellence in our area that is known throughout the world.”

The factory – GSK’s first new site in 40 years – is expected to begin production in 2020.

On Cumbria’s west coast Sellafield Ltd is responsible for safely delivering decommissioning, reprocessing and nuclear waste management activities on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

At the shipyard in Barrow BAE Systems employs around 6,000 personnel who are engaged in designing, building, testing and commissioning Astute-class submarines for the Royal Navy.

The company is planning to recruit a further 1,000 employees over the next year as preparation work for the Vanguard successor programme finds an extra gear.

BAE Systems anticipates that the long-term impact of successor would be worth £4.2 billion to Barrow, with more than 3,000 new jobs being created.

Cockermouth-based M-Sport is a motorsport and racing company which employs 193 people in the north-western Lake District. The firm is enjoying the success of the new Ford Fiesta rally car, which it designed and built. More than 65 have been sold in the past six months.

At Burneside Mills near Kendal James Cropper plc employs 500-plus personnel in the manufacturing of paper and last year turned over more than £79 million. In the same area a 230-strong workforce at Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon specialises in hydropower turbines and engine-cooling pumps.

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