LANCASHIRE has finally been awarded a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) by Whitehall.
Blackpool Council chief executive Steve Weaver said: “I’m extremely pleased we now have a LEP for Lancashire.
“This will allow us to ensure the county can more than punch its weight, ensuring the businesses and people of Lancashire and Blackpool benefit.
“I’ve no doubt the Lancashire LEP will be seen as a model of best practice, enterprise and ambition.”
Communities secretary Eric Pickles made it plain Enterprise Zones – areas with relaxed planning laws and even proposed lower taxation – would not be awarded to any locations without an LEP in place.
Mr Pickles had criticised the mess in Lancashire when Blackburn with Darwen refused to join in the Lancashire-wide bid.
The East Lancashire authorities are now in talks to rejoin the pan-Lancashire LEP.
County Council leader Geoff Driver said: “It’s good news we can now proceed with getting an LEP in place and our focus has already shifted to scheduling the first board meeting.
“We want to work with business to protect and create tens of thousands of new jobs in Lancashire over the next decade and the LEP will have a key role in making this possible.
“A big plus in receiving approval at this stage is that the LEP will be able to put together a bid to form an Enterprise Zone in the next round of applications.”
The Chambers of Commerce will take the lead in LEPs nationwide.