Urge to press on following Enterprise Zone failure

There has been county-wide anger to the news which would have seen a successful bid create a zone on BAE Systems’ sites at Warton and Samlesbury.

The county was not amongst the second wave of zones announced by the government during the summer.

MPs have said they plan to write to ministers over the decision which saw the closest Enterprise Zone being created in Warrington.

The zones will be supported by government incentives to kick-start economic growth such as tax breaks, relaxed planning rules and faster internet links.
Edwin Booth, chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has vowed to press for improvements to boost enterprise in the county.

He added: “We are already looking at taking forward all of the schemes the LEP considered as potential enterprise zones here in Lancashire.

“Despite the decision, we had some positive feedback from government about the quality of the bid and it’s important to recognise that in a very short space of time partners pulled together to develop and get behind what we considered to be a strong proposal.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw branded the selection of some of zones as “bone-headed”.

He added: “The extraordinary thing is some of these areas already have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the UK.

“However, evidence from when these kinds of zones were tried in the 1980s suggests that they don’t increase net employment but merely shift jobs from one area to another.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies added: “I firmly believe the principle behind the bid was a very good one and I will, of course, be talking to ministers about why we were unsuccessful and discussing opportunities for another bid in the future.

“This makes me even more determined to redouble my efforts to press the case for Lancashire’s economy and lobby ministers for more support.”

Leader of Lancashire County Council, Geoff Driver, said: “Lancashire is a great place to do business and we’ll press on with developing opportunities to attract investment and jobs to the county.”