Enterprise bid fails to take off

BAe Systems, Warton. PIC BY ROB LOCK
BAe Systems, Warton. PIC BY ROB LOCK
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LANCASHIRE has failed in its bid to be awarded enterprise status – leaving the county floundering behind other areas.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had hoped the Government would agree to an aerospace-themed zone covering BAE’s Warton and Samlesbury sites.

The scheme would have benefited businesses by reducing planning constraints and removing red tape for those intent on starting new businesses.

Now, Blackpool South MP and shadow business minister Gordon Marsden believes the decision could put the future of the LEP at risk.

He said: “I’m very disappointed – a lot of hard work went into the bid. These zones give people an advantage and they are the only way for the LEP to get funding to get the show on the road.

“Our LEP is now at a serious disadvantage to others – it needs some bridge funding so it can show what it can do and attract more investment.”

Edwin Booth, chairman of the LEP, added: “It’s disappointing news, although we knew from the start the Government would only be able to approve a minority of the bids and there was strong competition from across the country.

“Despite the decision, we had some very positive feedback from Government about the quality of the Lancashire bid and it’s important to recognise that in a very short space of time partners pulled together to develop and get behind a strong proposal which we all agreed would benefit the county.

“The LEP must now build on that technical expertise and spirit of partnership to explore other ways of stimulating economic growth and I have every confidence we will do so successfully.

“We are already looking at taking forward all of the schemes the LEP considered as potential enterprise zones here in Lancashire.”

Cliff Robson, industrial capability director at BAE Systems, said the company shared the partnership’s disappointment over the bid to create an advanced engineering and manufacturing enterprise zone being unsuccessful.

He added: “We believe the creation of the zone offered an excellent opportunity to build on the county’s high technology skill base and help strengthen the region’s economy.”

But Geoff Driver, leader of the County Council, said it was only the beginning.

He added: “The LEP has provided the platform for a new relationship between the private and public sectors to create economic growth and we’re looking at a variety of ways to do that, so this decision needs to be kept in perspective. Lancashire is a great place to do business.”