City Deal dream gets nod from city chiefs

Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal
Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal
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A deal worth £1bn to Preston and surrounding areas has moved a step closer.

Preston Council’s cabinet rubber-stamped draft details of the City Deal on Wednesday evening, with South Ribble Council and Lancashire County Council set to follow.

The Preston and Lancashire City Deal sets out a plan to support the creation of more than 20,000 new jobs – including 5,000 in the Lancashire Enterprise Zone, 17,420 new homes and four new road schemes over 10 years.

Funding of £450m will come from central government, with Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, signing an agreement in September.

Preston councillors agreed to an outline plan showing how and where the money could be spent.

Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said: “We are entering a very exciting time.

“There’s going to be an awful lot of hard work but the infrastructure plan is particularly useful as it enables us to see milestones and when things are going to be done.”

He added: “We’re very well prepared, but it does depend on the developers wanting to build the houses.

“We can build the roads for them, but we need the developers to come in.”

Coun Rankin announced that as part of the council’s agreement, all workers will be paid at least the living wage, and where possible, construction companies will be asked to employ local labour and apprentices.

He added: “This is good news for the local economy.”

Main aspects of the City Deal include the completion of the Penwortham and Broughton bypasses, a ‘Garden City’ for north west Preston and millions in funding for schools and health facilities.

Councillor Matthew Brown said he was pleased that principles the city council had been working to achieve since 2005 were included in the report, and that there was a focus on health.

He said: “Hopefully this will benefit a wide group of people rather than just a small section.”

Lancashire County Council is to take financial responsibilty for delivery of the City Deal, though the The Lancashire Economic Partnership are to be placed in day-to-day control of the project, leading the governance committee.

Bernard Hayes, corporate director of community and business services at Preston Council spoke to the cabinet about financial risks.

He said: “This authority is largely insulated, with the county council baring the brunt of the financial risks.

“If we are in surplus, then the money will go towards the bridge that completes the scheme, and if there is a shortfall, that is the responsibility of the county council.”

The main activity in Preston in the first year will be on the road network in Broughton.

For a detailed analysis of how the City Deal will affect Lancashire, see a special spread in Monday’s Lancashire Evening Post.