City ‘must not miss its chance’

Deal: Lorraine Norris
Deal: Lorraine Norris
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City leaders will this week be urged to give their backing to a £1bn bid which could deliver thousands of new jobs for Preston.

The Government has invited Preston to strike a ‘city deal’ which would see local authorities handed cash and decision-making power to boost the city.

The bid, jointly put together by Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council, would include opening up major roads around the city to improve infrastructure.

Bosses believe the deal could create 23,000 new jobs and pave the way for up to 15,000 new homes.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has already agreed to press ahead with the bid.

Their counterparts at the city council will be asked to do the same this week, ahead of a submission deadline of January 15 for expressions of interest.

In a report, to go before the city council’s cabinet tomorrow, chief executive Lorraine Norris advises members Preston is ideally placed to take up the opportunity.

She said: “The city and county councils consider it important not to waste the opportunity to bid for the recognition and additional support which would arise from a successful City Deal.

“Over the last decade, the Lancashire economy has benefited from a wide range of research, a consistent theme of which has been that the most economically productive area of the county is the greater Preston area. In the decade to 2008 it put on one of the highest rates of private sector growth in the country (16.1%) and since then has weathered the recession better than most. Over the last 10 years the Preston City Deal area has created more than 20,000 new jobs, with an economic base generating £9b. In the three years to 2010 Preston city centre alone, despite its problems, exported around 46,000 jobs to other parts of Lancashire.”

Applications are expected to be decided by November.