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“Someone has to lead the world, why not Lancashire?”

That was the rallying call from the Shadow Minister for Business and Industrial Strategy, Bill Esterson MP, as he addressed delegates at the ‘Lancashire Economic Breakfast’, hosted by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

The Labour shadow minister committed to working with businesses – of all sizes – should they prevail at the polls, and to support enterprise with business rates and help to cut the red tape which so often sees decisions-making taking so long.

He added support for skills and recruitment was vital in rebuilding the economy, saying the right support must be in place to rejuvenate confidence in commerce and generate growth, not only on Lancashire but for the country.

Speaking at the event, which took place at Preston College, Mr Esterson said: “Traditionally, Labour has not been seen as a party which is friends with business but, as with many things in government, this has to change.

“We are committed to a business rates review which will help millions of businesses, and we will consult with them, and Business Improvement Districts, to ensure it’s a fair system and whilst the Treasury needs a review, there are improvements that can and should be made to support businesses.

“The most important task we face, should we be the next party in government, is that we recreate confidence with markets and have a good relationship with businesses so we can make the UK prosperous again and invite investment onto these shores, while keeping the regional economies buoyant.”

Mr Esterson pointed to Lancashire’s diverse economy and praised the county’s manufacturing sector, as well as the many low carbon and green economy businesses which have embraced natural resources which have seen growth in recent years.

Though – when questioned about the amount of red tape surrounding permits – he said bureaucracy stood in the way of change.

He added: “Lancashire has a wealth of opportunities when it comes to the low carbon economy and Labour sees this area as the ‘green coast’. The north west is critical for growth in this area but we admit things take far too long to get done.

“The UK has some of the greatest businesses in green and low carbon technology but for too long we have lagged behind the rest of Europe and the world.

“Someone has to lead the world, why not Lancashire?”

Delegates at the Lancashire Economic Breakfast were given the results of the Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), while Delyth Edwards gave a presentation on the benefits of working with the British Business Bank.

Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the QES should contact Alan Welsh at the Chamber of Commerce: alanw@lancschamber.co.uk

The next Lancashire Economic Breakfast, sponsored by Catax, will take place on 12th October at Preston College at 7.30am

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