West Lancashire is open for business and the Borough Council is working on a five-year plan to bring new jobs and boost the local economy.
A wide-ranging Draft Economic Strategy which aims to identify opportunities for economic growth, business development and job creation for the borough is currently being developed.
One of this blueprint’s key aims will be to see how the borough’s residents and businesses can take maximum advantage of opportunities created by the development of the Liverpool Superport. These could include employment, business expansion, investment and growth and links are already being forged between the Council and the project team.
The Liverpool Superport development, which is expected to open in 2015, will open up the Port of Liverpool to receive some of the largest container vessels in the world. This will offer companies in the Midlands, North of England and Scotland a cheaper alternative than sending their goods to Southampton and Felixstowe, where the large ships currently dock. Eventually up to 50% of the UK’s sea freight could pass through Liverpool.
The Council hopes the Superport will see new firms emerge to take over the vacant Comet warehouse in Skelmersdale and other empty premises in the town. In the medium term the scheme may also help with the remodelling of industrial estates such as Pimbo and Gillibrands with more modern and fit-for-purpose units.
The strategy will also look at how the Borough can capitalise on the skills of Edge Hill University graduates and developments in neighbouring areas to see how these can benefit West Lancashire. Training initiatives will also be an important part of the plan, to ensure that residents are properly trained to take on any jobs opportunities.
The strategy will also explore how to make best use of improved transport links in and around West Lancashire, for example the possible future rail link to Skelmersdale. It will also highlight any improvements which could be made to enhance the image of the borough to attract new employers into the area.
Councillor Adrian Owens, portfolio holder for Regeneration, said: “We have all faced some challenging economic conditions in recent years, but in West Lancashire we are in a great position to reap the benefits of the Liverpool Superport. Our strategy will investigate not just the superport but all areas where we can help bring jobs, investment and greater economic prosperity to West Lancashire.”
The Council has approved £150,000 of funding to help create the strategy and achieve its objectives. This funding will spread over the next three years to carry out research as well as helping to deliver some of the strategy’s key short term objectives such as remodelling some of the Council’s own industrial and employment units.
The next steps will see the council holding an initial consultation with local businesses and training organisations to identify the key priorities for the strategy.
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