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Northern Powerhouse Minister puts Lancashire in the spotlight

Release date: 
Wednesday, 9 November, 2016

Andrew Percy MP to address 200+ business leaders at special conference regarding Lancashire’s key role within the Powerhouse

Lancashire’s Enterprise Partnership to become first official Northern Powerhouse LEP partner


The Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy MP, will be undertaking a tour of Lancashire today (Wednesday November 9th) which will include a series of official engagements highlighting Lancashire’s significance within the Powerhouse initiative.

The visit will commence with him addressing over 200 Lancashire business leaders and stakeholders from across the county at a special Lancashire Enterprise Partnership conference at Burnley Football Club.

Facilitated by Lancashire-born BBC Radio Five Live’s Tony Livesey, the event will see the Minister give an update on progress regarding the Northern Powerhouse initiative and highlight the key role Lancashire is set play in helping to boost the economic prosperity of the whole of the North

The Minister will be joined at the conference by Councillor Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and Chair of the shadow Lancashire Combined Authority, Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire LEP, and Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council.

They will share with delegates the latest details on the proposed Combined Authority, and will discuss the major strategic and economic priorities, opportunities and challenges which Lancashire face.

The conference will also see the Lancashire LEP becomes the first Enterprise Partnership in the country to sign-up to the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. By signing-up, the Lancashire LEP will join a diverse range of companies and organisations who have formally committed to work with government to help the North achieve its full potential, including generating new jobs and securing more investment for the whole of the Northern region.

Conference delegates will also hear about the new Lancashire narrative; a distillation of Lancashire’s key sectoral strengths which will be used to help target and promote new investment opportunities across the county.The narrative, which has been developed after extensive consultation with hundreds of local businesses across the county, is set to be adopted by both private and public sector organisations, and high profile individuals, to convey a unified and bold Lancashire identity - regionally, nationally and internationally – for the first time. 

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said:

“Building the Northern Powerhouse is central to our plans to create an economy that works for everyone.

“We’re backing the North with the investment and powers it needs to fulfil its huge untapped potential and I’m pleased to see businesses here, working alongside the Lancashire LEP, are pledging their support.”

Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire LEP said: “The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is delighted to be the first LEP in the country to confirm its position as an official Northern Powerhouse partner and to play a full and active role in the Powerhouse initiative. We wanted to take mark this occasion by inviting the Minister to Lancashire so he can see for himself the continuing, credible progress of the Lancashire LEP and partners are making across a wide range of sectors and markets.”

“We also wanted to use the Minister’s visit to mark the launch of the Lancashire narrative, a series of clear, engaging messages and themes which capture Lancashire’s world-class offer. The narrative, which has been shaped and driven by the people and businesses of Lancashire itself, is designed to give all partners and stakeholders a succinct, distinctiveand compelling Lancashire story which can be used to promote the county’s assets, celebrate its successes, and highlight its investment potential at every possible opportunity.”

Following on from the LEP conference at Burnley FC, the Minister will undertake a series of engagements which further reflect and reinforce the depth and breadth of Lancashire’s economic strength.

Engagement 1 – Burnley Innovation Drive (10am)

The Minister will officially open Innovation Drive in Burnley. Based at the former site of a Michelin Tyre factory, Innovation Drive is a 400,000 sq ft Advanced Engineering and technology business hub former, which is now home to major AEM, aerospace and technology business and SMEs including Kaman Tooling, BCW Engineering, Safran Nacellesand the Lancashire Digital Technology Centre (LDTC).  

The Minster will be met with Councillor Mark Townsend, Leader of Burnley Council and Lancashire LEP Director, Pam Smith, Chief Executive of Burnley Council, Tim Webber, Chairman of Barnfield Construction and Mark Crabtree, Chair of Burnley Bondholders and Director of AMS Neve

After the opening ceremony, the Minster will be given a tour of Innovation Drive and will visit aerospace and automotive specialists BCW Engineering, who manufacture components for the likes of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Airbus.

Burnley Council Leader and LEP Board Director, Mark Townsend said: “I’m delighted to welcome the Northern Powerhouse Minister to Burnley to formally launch Innovation Drive. Burnley has a reputation for getting things done, and this site is further evidence of the success of the council’s close working relationship with our local businesses. The phenomenal rate at which Innovation Drive has been developed is commendable, which I’m delighted to say is now almost fully occupied by high growth, high value engineering businesses creating 246 new jobs.”

Engagement 2 – Blackpool Energy HQ (12pm)

The Minister will then arrive at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for both the Blackpool Airport and the Hillhouses Enterprise Zones. One of the airfield’s key uses is in helicopter transportation to key energy generation sites in the Irish Sea. The site’s proximity to Britain’s Energy Coast has also meant it is home to the Lancashire Energy HQ, currently under development, which will act as a training base for the energy sector and be a flagship development on the Enterprise Zone

The Minister will be met by Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and Chair of the shadow Lancashire Combined Authority, Cty Cllr Jenny Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council,  Cllr Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Borough Council, Chief Executive of Blackpool Council, Neil Jack, Chief Executive of Fylde Borough Council, Allan Oldfield, Chief Executive of Wyre Borough Council, Garry Payne, and Daryl Platt, Executive Director of Commercial Development at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

The Minister will hear a short presentation on the Enterprise Zones and the Energy College before a short walk to view the college under construction. 

Engagement 3 – University of Central Lancashire, Preston (2pm)

The Minister will visit the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to meet David Taylor, Chair of UCLan and Vice Chair of the Lancashire LEP, and Mike Thomas, Vice Chancellor of UCLan. The Minister will be given an overview of UCLan’s current and future expansion plans and see the first ever Unmanned Aerial Vehiclecomponent made from Graphene, which was designed at UCLan in collaboration with the National Graphene Institute in Manchester.

The Minister will also take part in turf cutting ceremony for UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre(EIC), a £30 million facility which will be the first major milestone in UCLan’s 10-year, £200 million Campus Masterplan. The EIC will deliver a range of key objectives including reclaiming Lancashire’s role as a national centre for advanced manufacturing, ensuring that local skills reflect social and economic needs, and increasing the number of females in engineering careers.

David Taylor, Pro Chancellor and Chair of the UCLan Board, and LEP Director, said: “We are delighted that Andrew could join us today to officially mark the development phase of our Engineering Innovation Centre. The University is poised to become a real leader in engineering innovation, providing a world-class facility for young people to realise their potential, and the lifeblood for the North West region to maintain its position as the powerhouse of engineering and manufacturing in the UK.”

Engagement 4  – The Northern LEP Conference, County Hall, Preston (3pm)

Minister will address delegates at a special northern Local Enterprise Partnerships conference being hosted by Lancashire LEP and Lancashire County Council. The Minister is due to speak about the importance of LEP investment opportunities in the context of the Northern Powerhouse, progress to date and opportunities for Northern LEPs to feed in their views into the Powerhouse initiative.

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