Skelmersdale West County Cllr, Julie Gibson, Lancashire County Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, has reacted with concern that the “Redefining Lancashire” submission to Government has little or no reference to projects within West Lancashire.
The submission, published by Lancashire County Council, in partnership with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and the local authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, sets out how Lancashire will take steps to promote economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. But it has already received criticism that it does not include any consultation with the Borough and District Councils that make up the Lancashire County footprint as well sidelining many economic initiatives within West Lancashire.
Cllr Gibson said: “I welcome any initiative that looks to build on and support growth in the Lancashire economy, but I was dismayed to find out that input from the Leaders of the partner District and Borough Councils from across the County was non-existent. Not only that, but specific reference to West Lancashire is very thin on the ground. We have a number of infrastructure projects that should have been included in this document, projects such as the Skelmersdale Train Station, the Town Centre Developments in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk all of which are vital to the economic growth of West Lancashire. I am surprised that they were not mentioned.
She continued: “The document also misses the opportunity to champion the “Green” agenda for jobs and further develop these economic opportunities. We have missed a potential opportunity to put our case to Government for investment in new and expanding industries that will support our aims to be a “carbon free” economy.”
Cllr Gibson concluded: “Due to Covid-19 we face unprecedented times in our economy, the ramifications of which will be felt for many years to come. The “Redefining Lancashire” document, points out that West Lancashire had the largest increase in applicants for Job Seekers Allowance (56%) in May 2020 across the whole of the County, yet fails to offer solutions to support us. I will continue to make the case for investment in West Lancashire and call on all partners across the Borough to work with me to do this.”