COMMENT: Treasury cash welcome - but le Tour shows another way

The Westmorland Gazette: Tour de France riders in the Dales Tour de France riders in the Dales

THE Government’s announcement that £27m is to be invested in Cumbrian infrastructure, skills and job creation over the next few years is to be welcomed.

There is no doubt the county will benefit from improved transport links and a more hi-tech focus when it comes to training future workers.

Furness, South Cumbria’s industrial powerhouse, is certainly an area that should profit from this kind of boost, underpinning the already substantial private investment being made in the peninsula’s innovative industries.

But it is a shame this investment was not begun two or three years ago to help lift the Cumbrian economy out of recession sooner.

As it is, our region’s rise from the ashes of the UK’s financial meltdown has been a rather fitful one - and while some business leaders are expressing more confidence, there are many in Cumbria still facing tough challenges, particularly in the farming and tourism sectors.

But Treasury cash, while welcome, will inevitably be rationed in future as ministers struggle to reduce the country’s persistently high levels of borrowing. So, when it comes to sustaining long-term growth, Cumbria must really look to its own resourcefulness.

And proof that economic well-being is possible without government cash can be found over in Yorkshire, where last weekend’s hugely successful Grand Départ of the Tour de France was truly inspirational.

It is estimated that the Tyke economy will benefit to the tune of £100m as a result of hosting this event. It certainly provided free global TV exposure that could have cost a king’s ransom.

Cumbria, too, enjoys its fair share of prestigious events, such the Great North Swim and Kendal Mountain Festival. The county has also hosted stages Tour of Britain on three occasions and become a popular location for film makers in recent years.

None of this is as big as le Tour - but together enough to build on to justify the county’s UK Capital of Adventure aspirations.

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