A leading businessperson says he is backing a potential bid for Government funding for the Morecambe Bay region as he is unconvinced the £394.5m Borderlands Growth Deal will have an impact in the region.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said he believed “there’s little” in the deal for the south of the county, although its backers say it will benefit Cumbria as a whole.

Mr Johnston also said that Cumbria deserved more the huge funding pot provided by the UK and Scottish governments as home to half the 9,000sqm Borderlands region’s one million population.

Dignitaries gathered on Monday to sign a ‘heads of terms’ agreement for the much-anticipated growth deal, which aims to boost infrastructure, skills and tourism in the region either side of the England-Scotland border.

The Borderlands Partnership is made up of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and the Scottish Borders Council.

Major flagship projects included in the plan so far are centred around Carlisle and the Scottish borders.

But Cumbria County Council in particular has stressed the potential benefit for all of the county, with projects including £31m for energy projects to support green growth, £4m to support research and innovation in the dairy industry, money for the roll out full-fibre broadband and improved mobile phone coverage, and money to help rural towns across the England-Scotland border region.

Another, the ‘See More Lake District’ project, aims to encourage visitors to use more sustainable transport to explore the areas outside the Lake District World Heritage Site.

But Mr Johnston said he was unconvinced the impact of Borderlands would trickle down the county.

“We welcome the deal in principle, but we’d have liked to see Cumbria get a bigger slice of the cake,” he said.

“Half the population of the Borderlands region live in Cumbria yet we’re not getting anywhere near half the money.

“It has to be said that there’s little in the Borderlands Growth Deal for south Cumbria, which is why the Chamber is also supportive of proposals for a Morecambe Bay Growth Deal for Barrow, South Lakeland and Lancaster.”

The starting gun was fired om the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region collaboration between Barrow Borough Council, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Lancaster City Council last month, with the three authorities now looking to engage with businesses on a plan to boost the Morecambe Bay region’s £25 billion economy.

SLDC leader Giles Archibald told The Mail that is was weighing up whether it would submit its own growth deal bid to the Government to help fuel efforts to achieve “sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.

The opportunities for the region have been outlined in the glossy Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region prospectus, which outlines the region’s assets in advanced manufacturing, tourism, health, energy and education. It also includes opportunities to boost skills, housing, and industrial development.