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Business Growth (Lancaster and Fleetwood)

Volume 578: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2014

I visited Lancashire twice in recent weeks and met with Edwin Booth, the Lancashire local enterprise partnership chair, to discuss its emerging strategic economic plan. Through the Government’s decentralisation agenda, we are giving local leaders the tools and resources they need to drive local growth. As my hon. Friend will know, in Fleetwood for example, we are supporting the creation and safeguarding of over 400 jobs through investment in the seaside regeneration scheme.

Fleetwood has a number of thriving fish processing businesses but needs modern buildings and a complicated land swap to allow them to expand to get a form of northern Billingsgate. Given that we have limited capital resources, is there any chance of some kind of national competition for local authorities to bring forward their most difficult regeneration schemes, which potentially could be the most rewarding if they are unlocked?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and the local growth deals proposed by Michael Heseltine afford precisely that opportunity. I know, having discussed the matter in Lancashire with Lancashire LEP, that it will have a keen eye on that particular proposal. The revival of the economy along the Fylde coast and in the rest of Lancashire is very much in all our interests and I know that it has my hon. Friend’s strong support.

One way to support the fish processers of Fleetwood is to address the issue of the A585, which is the main road into Fleetwood going through my constituency. When the Minister negotiates the new city deal for the area, will he bear in mind the critical importance of the A585 to the local economy?

I cannot fail but to bear it in mind, having visited my hon. Friend’s constituency—he brought a stellar delegation of local businesses and civic leaders to make precisely that point. I received it loud and clear and look forward to the negotiations of the growth deal.