BUSINESSES in the South Lakes are crying out for staff, a council meeting has been told.

Coniston councillor Anne Hall said nearly “every” business there and in nearby Hawkshead was struggling to recruit.

“The staffing problem is a real issue and some businesses cannot get staff and are on their knees,” said Cllr Hall, the Conservative councillor for Coniston.

She said where possible, tourism businesses needed to provide staff accommodation as house prices remained too high for young people.

She said 11 affordable homes had opened a year ago in Coniston, work on seven was due to start shortly and that a complex of nine houses in Torver had all been quickly occupied.

SLDC council leader Giles Archibald said the council pledged five years ago to facilitate the building of 1,000 affordable homes for rent.

It had also created a £6 million loan fund to encourage housing associations to build affordable houses for rent, he said.

“Overall we are on track to meet our target – we are on 460 and confidently expect an additional 600 by the year 2025,” said the Liberal Democrat councillor for Kendal Town.

He said a survey of businesses had found 20 per cent were “very confident” of the outlook for the next year, and 54 per cent were “fairly confident”.

Councillor Brian Cooper said all the employment sites in the Burton, Holme and Crooklands area were “booked up” and said there was a waiting list for employers wanting to set up shop in the area, especially around Junction 36.

“We are definitely short of employment sites,” said Cllr Cooper, the Conservative councillor for Burton and Crooklands.

Cllr Jonathan Brook, the Liberal Democrat cabinet member for housing and innovation, agreed to look into the issue.

SLDC chief executive Lawrence Conway told the meeting the council’s plan  was about ensuring the area had “land, the housing and job opportunities”.

He said: “It’s about making sure that students at Lancaster University think this way, rather than south to London or Manchester. It’s about showing them that South Lakeland is a place where they can have a job, raise their families and own a house. That is what the council plan is very much about.”

Cllr Vicky Hughes, the Liberal Democrat for Ambleside and Grasmere, said South Lakeland had notched up the highest number of business start-ups in Cumbria in the last year with 72.5 per cent.

She said it was important for the council to understand how many survived their first few years of trading.