Preston bids for City Deal

Preston has been invited to bid for City Deal status by the government. Competing with cities such as Brighton, Norwich and Plymouth, the successful applicants will see cash handed to authorities to spur on growth and develop infrastructure.

Decision-making powers and access to finance will be devolved to local authorities, allowing decisions to be made more quickly and effectively. Liverpool’s successful bid in the first wave included their adoption of a mayoral system.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “Wave one was the trailblazers. Their ingenuity and drive have made it possible to have this second round. But wave two will help decide whether this level of decentralisation goes from being the exception to the norm.”

Final details have yet to be revealed, but it’s believed that the bid will also include South Ribble and Chorley to form a region named Central Lancashire. It’s the only area in the North West invited to compete for the status, but there are 19 others across the UK.

The deadline for submissions is January 15 and only the best proposals, with a solid plan to make the biggest difference, will be considered.

The Lancashire Economic Partnership will play a leading role in compiling the bid. Chairman Edwin Booth said: “It's good to see Preston on the list and our focus is now on working with the local authorities and others to put together a bid of the calibre the government will feel compelled to support.

“Central Lancashire has great potential as a centre for economic growth and in fact if you look back over the last several decades that is borne out by the levels of private sector job creation in the area. With Preston at its heart, it can pull even more weight in future and have a positive effect on the rest of the county and beyond.

“The Deputy Prime Minister made clear in his announcement that he wants cities to show ambition and creativity. In Lancashire we have both of those things in abundance and we must put together a bid that demonstrates it.”

Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, said: “We are delighted that Preston and Central Lancashire is recognised as an area of strong growth. The area has all the potential for future business development and job growth. We welcome the opportunity to negotiate a city deal working together with Government, Lancashire County Council and other partners, to make this growth even stronger for the benefit of Central Lancashire and the county as a whole.”