Cumbria’s Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Transport Secretary to set up bus commuter corridors - to allow job hunters in Barrow to find work in the Lake District.

In a letter to the minister, Grant Shapps, the chamber has explained how it has argued that frequent, subsidised buses running into the Lakes from early in the morning until late at night would allow those without a car to fill jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector.

The chamber has also explained to Mr Shapps that a move like this could become increasingly important from next year when the post-Brexit immigration policy will make it almost impossible for tourism businesses to recruit migrant workers.

Chamber chief executive Rob Johnston said: “Unemployment in Cumbria has doubled under lockdown and is set to go higher as the Government’s furlough scheme is withdrawn.

“We need to find ways to help people in the areas with the highest unemployment travel to where the jobs are.

“The Lake District economy currently relies heavily on EU migrant workers but that can’t continue. The Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy will make it impossible for migrants to fill lower-paid roles.

“The obvious solution is for Cumbrians to take these jobs but, as things stand, only car owners can do that because there are no buses at times to suit shift workers in hospitality.”

The letter points out that Cumbria County Council ended all bus subsidies in 2014.

Surviving services in the Lakes are geared to the needs of visitors rather than commuters.

The letter to Mr Shapps calls for seed-corn funding to get commuter bus corridors up and running but says that, once established, rising take-up should reduce the need for government support.

Mr Johnston added: “We’ve spoken to Stagecoach and they are keen to see this happen.

“Commuter bus corridors are a win-win. They offer job opportunities to those who have been made redundant during the pandemic and they help the visitor economy.”