[T]he Minister for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Richard Harrington MP, has met with the Board of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the county’s strategic economic body.
The meeting with Mr Harrington, set up during a visit to the county as part of his role as sponsor minister for Cumbria LEP, was a face to face opportunity for the Board to outline its shared ambition for Cumbria and some of the key initiatives needed to deliver it.
It also comes at a crucial time with local enterprise partnerships taking on additional responsibilities and being charged with the task of devising new Local Industrial Strategies to take forward their respective areas’ economic development plans for the next decade.
The minister opened the meeting by outlining the government’s aims and expectations for LEPs, before focusing discussion on Cumbria and the county’s role in the Northern Powerhouse, Transport for the North, and the developing Borderlands initiative.
Cumbria LEP Board members were given the opportunity to discuss major infrastructure developments with the minister, including Carlisle Airport, the energy coastal rail upgrade and the GSK Ulverston site. The Board also outlined how the LEP intends to address issues that might impact on growth, including labour supply, skills and broadband and mobile coverage.
Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Vice Chair Jackie Arnold explains: “Mr Harrington’s visit to the county and his commitment to meeting with our Board underlines his genuine affection for the area. He has worked in business in and around the county and is therefore familiar with our economic challenges.
“This was a chance for the Board to show the business, energy and industry minister what Cumbria has to offer to the Northern Powerhouse, but also to emphasise the need for additional investment and positive interventions in key areas such as transport, skills development and connectivity.
“It was clear to the Board that the minister considers the Northern Powerhouse, Transport for the North and the Borderlands proposals as important vehicles in rebalancing the economy in geographic terms, as well as opening up more opportunities for Cumbria to make a significant contribution to national productivity.
“All in all, this was an extremely encouraging ministerial meeting, with strong signals that the government will be offering greater support to the LEP Board to ensure that we can maximise opportunities for economic growth.”
Business Minister Richard Harrington said: “This meeting was a great opportunity to hear about the bold and ambitious plans being developed by the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.
“This LEP has a critical role to play as part of the Northern Powerhouse and in delivering on the ambition set out in our Industrial Strategy. In the months to come it will be responsible for delivering and driving forward a Local Industrial Strategy that will support economic growth in the area, boost people’s earning power and create good quality jobs.”
For further information about Cumbria LEP, please visit www.thecumbrialep.co.uk