Divided over Fylde’s future

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A row has broken out over plans to attract more jobs and businesses to Fylde.

Tory and Independent councillors are split over how much land should be given over to employment and housing in the borough’s Local Plan.

Coun Liz Oades

Coun Liz Oades

And a bid by independent councillor Liz Oades for the council to take more time examing the proposals was criticised for potentially putting businesses off the area.

Coun Oades believes there are serious flaws in the Employment Land and Premises Study and wants to make sure the policy is correct before it goes to a public inquiry.

However, Tory councillors believe any delay could put off potential investors.

Coun Edward Nash said the introduction of a working group would severely delay the Fylde Local Plan and felt the need for businesses space in Fylde was urgent. He said: “If there is slightly too much land then so what? But if we run out of space then we will lose businesses, never mind attracting them.”

Coun Tim Ashton said any hold up would mean Fylde ran the risk of falling further behind other councils in the country.

He said: “I would love for people in Fylde to live and work here instead of travelling to Manchester, Preston and Liverpool.

“We want to be able to say to perspective employers that Fylde is open for business and it is the place to start and create jobs.”

But Coun Oades dismissed claims independent councillors are negative and opposed to industry as “ridiculous”

She said: “We aren’t against employment for our borough but we are aware that modern industry and working methods don’t need as much land on which to operate these days.

“The policy, as it stands, suggests that a small borough like Fylde will need more than twice as much employment land as Blackpool and Wyre put together, this totally defies all logic.

“It will take one meeting or two at the most looking at the evidence.

“If the professional consultants in a public inquiry can explain to us why we are wrong then we will hold our hands up and admit it.”

Coun Ashton now believes the council is more divided than ever in what they want for the borough.

“There is now clear blue water between us and the independent councillors, we are focusing on the positives and thinking what the best for Fylde could be rather than focusing on any negatives,” he said.