Preston on track for City Deal

By Richard

19 Feb 2013

Preston is one of 20 regions to have progressed to the next stage of the City Deal process which could unlock millions of pounds to be managed and spent without Whitehall involvement.

The deals will be reached between Government and cities so that local areas can bid for new powers that will enable them to grow. In return for cities’ strong plans for growth the government will devolve financial and planning powers to let cities take charge of their own destinies – from autonomy over how to spend their training and skills budgets, to creating local investment funds to build roads and unlock developments.

“Letting go of power and money doesn’t come naturally to Whitehall. Over time, the economic importance of other parts of the country has been devastatingly downplayed, as the economic elite have narrowed the debate towards a London-centric view.

The Government will now work closely with cities to develop the proposals in more detail and to negotiate a final deal which, it is hoped, will see more than 20,000 jobs created, 15,000 homes built and around £1bn injected into the local economy over the next decade.

"Preston has enormous potential as a focal point for economic growth, but this bid is on a vast scale and it is not just the city itself but the whole of Lancashire that stands to benefit. It also complements our existing programmes for job creation and apprenticeships.

Securing the City Deal is expected to provide the basis for a number of major schemes to be realised, including new roads and widening of existing routes to greatly improve access to and from the motorway network.

Edwin Booth, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "I'm delighted that the bid has received the green light and particularly pleased with the feedback the proposal has had from government.

"The priority now must be to work with government to sign the deal as soon as possible and begin to turn what is an extremely significant proposal into a reality for residents and businesses across Lancashire."

"We just need the shackles to be unleashed to provide the infrastructure and freedoms that will enable more businesses to grow and flourish here.

Jim Carter, chairman of Preston Vision, added: "Preston's track record on economic growth over the last decade was matched by few other areas, so the private sector clearly recognises its potential.

"I understand the government has been particularly impressed that the private sector has been engaged in the preparation of the bid and that is a theme that must continue as we move forward to deliver it."  

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