Lancashire

Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership approved

A new body to help kick-start Lancashire's economic recovery has been approved by the government.

The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will bring together businesses, councils and universities to develop a growth strategy and bid for funding.

It will bid to create an Enterprise Zone, which benefit from business rate discounts, simplified planning and access to superfast broadband.

The LEP will also help Lancashire bid for Regional Growth Fund cash.

The partnership, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs, will cover the administrative boundaries served by Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council.

'New energy'

LEPs across the UK run the 21 Enterprise Zones announced in the Budget including Airport City at Manchester Airport.

Discussions are continuing with Blackburn with Darwen Council about the possibility for the LEP to be extended across the entire county.

Leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver said: "It's good news that we can now proceed with getting an LEP in place and our focus has already shifted to scheduling the first board meeting as soon as possible.

"Local authorities have been required to lead on the preparations for an LEP but what must be recognised now is that this is something businesses will lead on once it is up and running."

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The LEP should put business right at the heart of the plans for future economic growth.

"The news will help transform the economic geography of the county.

"It will create a new local energy that will encourage economic growth and protect business with proper local accountability."

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