Longridge's future role as major Ribble Valley "service centre"

Mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft
Mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft

A pioneering new action plan is being created for Longridge focusing on its role as a “service centre”.

The Town Council is planning to invite representatives from local businesses and invited organisations to a special meeting to help identify future local needs.

It has been asked by Ribble Valley Borough Council (RVBC) to report back to help inform the borough council’s economic development strategy.

The aim is to ensure the town is able to meet the needs not just of its residents, but those in surrounding villages as well.

Eventually Longridge should have its own service centre action plan.

Town Mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft said: “Ribble Valley Borough Council wish to develop service centre action plans for Longridge, Clitheroe and Whalley. We are pleased that Longridge has been chosen as the first town to do that.”

He said: “It will be looking at how we can develop the economy of the town. People come to Longridge for all sorts of reasons, not just to shop.”

Priorities are likely to include improving access to the town’s services and jobs.

The mayor said the term “service centre” provides a recognition the towns serves other communities than just the towns themselves, providing services from shopping to health and leisure.

Priorities are likely include improving access to the town’s facilities and job creation.

Coun Ashcroft added: “I think one of the things the service centre action plan has to recognise is the impact of the (new) housing developments in Longridge and across the border. That’s one of the main things.”

He continued: “We need to look at the high street - there are quite a number of shops empty at the moment. We are talking about economic development and jobs and what needs to be done to facilitate that.”

A preliminary meeting will be held this week to decide the Town Council’s next steps and an update will be presented to next week’s Town Council meeting.

Town and Borough Coun Jim Rogerson, who is vice chairman of the RVBC economic development committee, said: “I think it’s a good thing for the town. We need to find out all the problems first. We (RVBC) are doing a revision of our core strategy - it’s all linked to that to find out what’s needed.”

He added that any changes would also depend on funding being available: “For economic development I would like to get some jobs here, to stop commuting. To me the biggest thing is for young people who are leaving school and trying to get jobs - they need work locally, if they get more experience they can travel. They need jobs to get young people into a work environment and develop.”

If issues outside the borough council’s remit were raised the relevant organisations would be contacted.