Longridge councillor and former MP Ken Hind is pressing for a regeneration policy throughout Ribble Valley to lead its economic recovery.
He feels the borough council needs a single, coherent business and regeneration policy for the whole district and it should form an Economic Regeneration Committee.
His idea links in with discussions about the Longridge Neighbourhood Plan (see Pages 1 and 3) and the Clitheroe town centre development.
Both highlight the need for the new committee, which would liase with employers’ organisations, trade unions, chambers of trade, town teams and the voluntary sector, as well as co-ordinate the various business initiatives throughout the borough to lead the community towards economic regeneration.
The Conservative councillor said: “Good work so far can form the basis of a co-ordinated approach.
“One of the best examples of the need for this is in our three main retail centres - Clitheroe, Longridge and Whalley.
“Recent plans for an extra out-of-town supermarket on the former nursery site in Clitheroe highlight the fact that the one thing the Ribble Valley does not need is another out-of-town supermarket.
“There are seven such outlets covering a population of 58,000. More will only kill off the small business proprietor-owned shops which give variety to our high streets and destroy town centres.”
He stressed that in Longridge, business needed to have a major input into the Neighbourhood Plan. This was moving forward with the town council and Ribble Valley borough working together.
Coun Hind added: “The Town Team and Longridge Business Group will work together to produce such a response.
‘The expertise available on the RVBC should be used to help initiate grant schemes and work with Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to help create new businesses and jobs in the borough.
“Our aim should be to make sure that we create jobs to be a sustainable community with work for our young people, not a dormitory area with a ‘drive out’ economy.
“We must make sure we have our fair share of resources available from central government and the county council.”
Coun Hind felt the time was right for this initiative with the need to build on improvements in the economy as a whole.
Growth was predicted to be 1.8 per cent this year with government borrowing falling.
“Many of the announcements in the government’s autumn statement will help local business and we should have a structure in place to take advantage as the economy improves,” he added.
Key points in the statement included:
• Employer national insurance scrapped for under 21s.
• An additional 20,000 apprenticeships to be created
• Increase on business rates capped at 2pc.up to £1,000 off for small shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants- important for tourism
• 50 per cent rate relief for businesses taking on empty retail properties.
• The start up business loans scheme will be expanded, and is predicted to help 50,000 extra people build small businesses .
• Next year’s fuel duty scrapped.