South Ribble wants businesses to help improve skills in the borough

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Drone footage, search engine optimisation and social media engagement –  just three of the ways South Ribble Council hopes to attract business investment to the borough.

The authority set aside £100,000 in its budget to promote the district to those firms which could bring ‘higher level’ jobs to the area and improve the skills of the population. But, so far, less than £4,000 has been spent on the project.

South Ribble wants to attract business of all sizes to the borough.

South Ribble wants to attract business of all sizes to the borough.

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The new scheme will absorb almost half of the available funding and will include the filming of aerial footage to show the borough from above, enhancing South Ribble's presence in search engines and engaging in social media campaigns.

It was approved at the first meeting of the new Labour cabinet installed at the authority earlier this week, but has its roots in previous Conservative administrations – as one former cabinet member wanted to point out.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in this paper,” Cllr Phil Smith told the meeting. “Obviously, it has been brought forward from [both] previous cabinets.

“If this goes forward in the right way, then it will have a [beneficial] effect throughout the borough in terms of employment and…the finances of the council through business rates,” Cllr Smith added.

The new cabinet member for finance, Matthew Tomlinson, alighted upon a rare moment of cross-party cordiality in the borough.

“If we think it’s a good idea, and previous cabinets thought it was a good idea, then it’s nice we’ve found something the whole council can get behind,” Cllr Tomlinson said.

The strategy is designed to attract businesses of all sizes to South Ribble and also support apprenticeships.

But council leader, Paul Foster, warned that the results would have to be monitored – and not duplicate what was being done elsewhere.

“It’s got to have a real impact and be effective for us to justify spending the money,” Cllr Foster said. “We’ve got City Deal doing their own place promotion as well – and we need to see if these all tie in and work together.”

The meeting heard that the council needed to re-establish its database of businesses, after some of it had to be deleted following the introduction of new data protection rules earlier this year.