Cumbria aims to win £24m in bid to create 15,000 jobs

The Westmorland Gazette: On the factory floor at Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon are (left to right) Charles Crewdson of Gilkes with Coun Peter Thornton and David Sykes of People Places On the factory floor at Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon are (left to right) Charles Crewdson of Gilkes with Coun Peter Thornton and David Sykes of People Places

CUMBRIA’S captains of industry want to win £24 million in cash to give extra firepower to a new 10-year economic plan which has 15,000 new jobs as its headline target.

Hot on the heels of the Cumbria Strategic Economic Plan being published, a united Cumbria bid was sent off this week to the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation.

It hopes to secure millions of pounds to help get some job-creation and business projects off the drawing board and into action – in stark contrast to bids for deprivation help which have traditionally gone to Barrow and West Cumbria.

It has been drawn up by Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a mix of private and public sector representatives led by deputy Sellafield MD George Beveridge, and including South Lakeland District Council leader, Coun Peter Thornton, who represents the district and neighbouring Furness.

The answer on the funding bid will not be due until summer as it seeks to win a share of the £1bn pot being put up nationally by the government.

Cumbria’s ambitions are built around a ‘four pronged attack’: * Advanced manufacturing growth * Nuclear and energy excellence * A vibrant rural and visitor economy * Strategic connectivity of the M6 corridor.

But those behind the county’s latest 26-page strategic economic plan say their goals for the next decade will remain in place whatever the funding result. Headline aims for South Lakeland include a large share in 7,600 new full-time equivalent jobs in tourism across Cumbria - providing the county can grow its £2 billion-a-year tourism industry by £525 million over the coming decade.

That would mean a big push in expanding tourism markets to promote Cumbria in South America, China, Japan and India.

Officials in South Lakeland believe its projects have a significant head start because it already has a major homes and business blueprint in place, which is likely to prove attractive to Whitehall funders wanting ‘digger ready’ schemes.

Projects for South Lakeland and Furness include helping home-grown success stories expand and creating more jobs as wells as making the area more attractive as a base for out-of-county firms.

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