The head of a business lobbying group has said Lancashire is “going nowhere fast” due to rivalries between different parts of the county.
Frank McKenna, chairman of Downtown Lancashire in Business, said that “petty parochial political turf wars” between the rival areas had driven investment away.
He cited the collapse of Preston’s £700m Tithebarn project following objections by neighbouring councils in Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.
He added that in West Yorkshire, where his business has launched its latest group, Leeds city centre was undergoing a £350m retail-led regeneration project supported by neighbouring councils.
In a speech at the group’s annual business awards on Thursday night, he said: “It is not that Leed exists in a state of isolation, nor that rivalry and competition does not exist between the city and others in the Yorkshire region, including another big city, Bradford, which is quite literally just down the road.
“However, what our Yorkshire counterparts have recognised is that they will achieve a lot more by working together than they would if they kicked lumps out of one another everytime one of its neighbours was offered an opportunity to progress.
“Whilst most northern cities and city regions are arguing with central government about the economic imbalance between the South East and the rest of the UK, whilst Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn content themselves in the knowledge none of them are going anywhere fast.”
He added that Lancashire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the body made up of business leaders and public sector officials to drive growth, had made “some progress” in recent months.
The top award of the night, Large Business of the Year, was landed by Hays Recruitment Specialists with Preston-based Garratts Insurance collecting the Small Business of the Year prize at the awards at Stanley House Hotel in Mellor, near Preston.
Richard Garratt, a director of the insurance brokers, said: “We thoroughly enjoy what we do, the Garratt family has a long history in Preston and we hope we are continuing that tradition to look after the assets and companies of Preston.”
Kirsty Henshaw, who has recently taken her range of Kirsty’s ready meals into the United States, said the past 12 months had been “really tough, but really good.”
PR agency The Write Angle, which is based at Buckshaw Village, near Leyland, scooped two awards on the evening landing the Best PR Creative Agency award and the Most Creative Marketing Campaign prize for its work on the Preston Guild.
LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Hays Recruitment Specialists;
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Garratts Insurance;
WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Kirsty Henshaw;
MAN OF THE YEAR: Steve Broomhead (Recycling Lives);
BEST HOSPITALITY VENUE: Stanley House;
PROPERTY FIRM OF THE YEAR: Petty CS;
BEST USE OF IT/SOCIAL MEDIA: Marsden Rawsthorn;
SOCIAL MEDIA GURU OF THE YEAR: Jeremy Coates (Magma Digital);
BEST PR CREATIVE AGENCY: The Write Angle;
BEST FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANY: Champion Accountants;
LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR: Forbes Solicitors;
MOST CREATIVE MARKETING CAMPAIGN: The Write Angle - GUILD Year;
NETWORKER OF THE YEAR (FEMALE): Janine Smith (Orvia);
NETWORKER OF THE YEAR (MALE): Teg Roberts (Astute Motoring).