The organisation behind the Pennine Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership bid has released figures showing its distinctiveness from the rest of Lancashire as an economic area.
Critics in the business community have rounded on Lancashire's regeneration bosses for not submitting a single unifying LEP bid for the county. LEPs will replace Regional Development Agencies in 2012 and bids for establishing the new governance structures must be submitted by 6 September. There are three LEPs planned for Lancashire: Blackpool and Fylde, led by the local economic development company, Pan Lancashire promoted by Lancashire County Council and Pennine Lancashire, covering Blackburn to Pendle, bid being submitted by the Regenerate Pennine Lancashire economic agency.
The figures compiled by Regenerate Pennine Lancashire show that more than 75% of residents in the area work in the area too. Three times as many of those who do travel outside the region go south towards Manchester, rather than west to neighbouring Preston.
The figures show:
- Blackburn and Burnley provide 10,000 jobs for each other
- 84% of the East Lancashire people live and work in the area
- 17, 000 workers travel south into the Manchester City Region with only 5,000 travelling to Preston
- Private sector jobs growth in the Manchester City Region is forecast to be 81,900 compared to 11,000 in the Preston city region.
Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Burnley Council, said: "The government has asked for bids not based on size, but on suitability – on areas that have their own economy. The fact that less than 2% of our workforce travel to Preston even though we have great connections, clearly proves that Pennine Lancashire is a separate economy in its own right."
The figures come as a welcome boost for the Pennine Lancashire bid as the government, in seeking local replacements for the NWDA, has asked for bids to be based on 'real functional and travel-to-work areas'.
Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, also supports the separate Pennine Lancashire LEP. He said: "This is not about changing Lancashire, or Lancastrians; it is about helping Lancashire's distinctly separate economies thrive – as defined by these statistics. This means moving from the old emotive economy to a new focused growth economy, suitability over size, as it is not who can compete best with Manchester but who can work best with Manchester to support and take advantage of its predicted 80 000 new jobs growth."