Communities Secretary John Denham and regional minister Phil Woolas have signed the multi area agreement establishing new powers and a business plan for the Fylde coast.
Tackling the benefit culture, shoddy rented housing and improving the tourism sector were among the priorities agreed by ministers and the four councils of Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre and Lancashire. The formal document allows local authorities to pool funding and agree cross-boundary policies, as well as providing a stronger lobbying voice when going to Government.
The various targets set in the MAA include:
- Establish a uniquely Fylde Coast cultural identity for the area by promoting the Olympiad, Fleetwood Waterfront, Blackpool's promenade and Royal Lytham & St Anne's
- Ensure a better match of skills by training 7,000 people to meet the needs of local employers, particularly in tourism customer service and aerospace
- Reduce the number of people receiving out-of-work benefits
- Tackle the large number of houses in multiple occupation and increase the overall quality of privately rented accommodation
- Increase overall housing by 1,000 homes a year
- Reduce carbon emissions by increasing the number of people who use public transport to get to and from work.
Woolas, who visited Blackpool on Thursday along with Denham to sign the MAA, said: "The Fylde Coast is emerging as a dynamic region, and with its tourism industry and plans to be at the forefront of renewable energy, it plays a crucial role in the economy of the North West.
"Today's signing confirms the determination of all the partners to work with each other and with the Government and its agencies in the region, to build on their successes and deliver its vision to benefit local people, the region and UK plc."
Unemployment in the area is extremely high at 20% and economic output is below 75% of the UK average. The MAA aims to surpass the 75% mark by 2018.
Today's signing takes the number of council agreements to 14, covering more than 100 councils. Other North West MAAs are in place for Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region.