New partnership will help boost bay opportunities

From left:  Coun Giles Archibald (South Lakeland), Coun Eileen Blamire (Lancaster) and Coun Dave Pidduck (Barrow).
From left: Coun Giles Archibald (South Lakeland), Coun Eileen Blamire (Lancaster) and Coun Dave Pidduck (Barrow).

Three councils have pledged to work more closely to attract greater investment and employment into the Morecambe Bay area.

Lancaster City Council , South Lakeland District Council, and the Borough of Barrow in Furness say the new partnership will enable more effective economic development activity and bring fresh opportunities.

The first step towards collaboration has already been taken with the leaders of each council signing a Joint Statement of Intent to work together on economic development opportunities.

Coun Eileen Blamire, Leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Stronger collaboration around Morecambe Bay provides potential strategic advantages for all three councils and the communities we serve.

“District and county administrative boundaries serve a purpose in terms of public administration but do not necessarily define the economy, which develops around key sectors, supply chains and markets, as well as people and skills.”

In 2016 the three authorities agreed to commission a joint study to explore if there was evidence to support closer working.

The consultants, Mickledore, found that an unusually high proportion of the workforce both live and work within the combined area and, whilst the economies of South Lakeland, Lancaster and Barrow have significant differences, there are clear benefits from collaborating on economic development and other important initiatives.

Coun Giles Archibald, Leader of South Lakeland District Council, says there is strong evidence to suggest the partnership will be mutually beneficial.

“Instead of working separately to attract investment and encourage growth we will work in partnership and lobby with one voice to allow Morecambe Bay to fulfil its economic potential,” said Coun Archibald.

By working together the partner authorities would share a bigger economic picture; demonstrating strengths in marine engineering, energy generation, nuclear skills, advanced engineering and higher education.

Barrow Borough Council’s Leader, Coun Dave Pidduck, said: “All three local authority areas have unique strengths and will benefit from a collaborative approach to new employment, infrastructure and skills.”

Ideas include the creation of a Prospectus of Opportunity and the joint promotion of the area as a great place to live, study and build a career.