Moves to develop a more sustainable economy around Morecambe Bay were outlined to business leaders – with an appeal made for them to get involved and shape the project’s direction.
The creation of the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region (LSCER) will see South Lakeland District Council, Barrow Borough Council and Lancaster City Council working together more closely to build on their collective strengths.
A Business Prospectus, promoting the approach and potential for investment and growth in the area, was launched at Lancaster University’s Management School on Friday.
The prospectus highlights the area as being a beautiful and safe place to live – encompassing the Lake District, and the many protected coastal attractions of Morecambe Bay – with city-like benefits of good national transport links, leading universities and world-class restaurants and cultural offer.
With two international gateway ports at Barrow and Heysham, the Lancaster and South Cumbria area benefits from sustained high employment levels, a highly-talented, thriving workforce, and a growing, innovative economy.
The three councils agree that exploring ways they can together build on their collective strengths in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, digital technologies, life sciences, health innovation, higher education and the visitor economy.
An audience of around 100 businesses and stakeholders were told that the collective Morecambe Bay area within the boundaries of the three authorities functioned as a “rural, world-class functioning economic area”, with 96 per cent of the workforce both working and living in that area.
The councils confirmed their commitment to supporting the private sector and said more could be achieved working collaboratively than in isolation. Business leaders were told that a strong, shared voice was more likely to be heard at a national level. The LSCER is a complementary project to existing structures, attendees heard, and not about replacing or adding to existing tiers of local government.
Business sector representatives were urged to talk to the councils about what they needed from the initiative – and to spread the word. Part of the next step will be listening to the response from businesses which will inform work going on to firm up future investment plans.
Councillor Giles Archibald, leader of South Lakeland District Council, said: “Across the three districts we have fabulous, world-leading businesses and by working together, we can be greater than the sum of our parts and contribute in an even more effective way to our shared economic growth.
“This is not about replacing existing initiatives but working collaboratively to stimulate greater economic success and prosperity for our businesses and residents. The potential for what we could achieve together is huge and I am excited to see how our businesses engage with us on this project and inform the next steps to a better future for us all.”