Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg here gives us his view on Preston’s City Deal.
An historic deal launching a new era of growth and prosperity in Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire will be signed today.
The ‘City Deal’ puts control of hundreds of millions of pounds into the hands of local people. It will kick-start the largest road building programme for a generation and create thousands of new jobs and homes. This deal says loud and clear that Preston is open for business.
As a result, the City Deal is expected to create more than 20,000 new jobs over the next ten years. That means that the area’s hard-working families can look to the future with confidence, assured that they and their children will have the opportunities they need to get on in life.
The deal will produce these benefits by investing in the transport system which business needs to thrive. Nearly £110m will be spent on improving access to the Warton Enterprise Zone; a further £52.5m will be used to develop commercial sites in South Ribble; in East Preston, £24m will go to easing congestion; and £17.5m will be used to extend motorway access.
But this is just the start. By improving the roads and opening access, the City Deal will enable as many as 17,400 new homes to be built in the Preston area. A £450m Delivery Programme and Investment Fund will be set up to ensure that the infrastructure keeps improving as the city grows. This will give Preston long-term security and help to attract an additional £2.3bn of private investment to the city for house building and enterprise.
For me, today’s deal is a landmark.
It is the first to be signed following agreements with England’s largest cities and puts Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire at the leading edge alongside places such as Birmingham and Manchester. I expect other cities to follow. But Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire is there first because its leaders presented a strong case to the Government and because we recognise that the hard work of local people means the city has the confidence to expand its economy.
So it is in recognition of Preston and Lancashire’s success that we are signing over real power from Whitehall to the city’s town halls.
These powers enable local government to say how money from the central pot should be spent. That’s why, after a 30 year wait, there will finally be a Junction 2 on the M55 to serve the west of Preston.
Today, I want to congratulate the people of Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire. Your hard work has made this ground-breaking deal possible. You are making your area a place that businesses want to invest in. You are leading the country to build a stronger economy and by taking responsibility for local issues you are building a fairer society.