Ribble Valley is open for business – that’s the message from the borough council’s new leader.
The council is drawing up a series of ambitious plans aimed at boosting the economy, creating employment and increasing sustainability.
Council leader Ken Hind said the days when local government could ‘hold out its hand’ to the Government were over and the time had come to maximise council income.
He said: “The council has lost 40 per cent of its spending power since 2010 and it will never return. In the post-austerity era ahead we will have to maximise the council’s income to spend on services for the benefit of the public. This requires a change of approach and mindset, and we have set about providing the council with the tools to do so.
“Our aim is to drive the local economy, maximise local enterprise, create jobs for new and existing residents of Ribble Valley, and avoid being a dormitory borough or drive-out community.”
The council is now in the process of establishing an economic development committee, amalgamating the council’s economic development and planning departments and recruiting a planning and economic development director charged with leading a team focused on boosting the local economy.
Coun Hind added: “The Government proposes to end the revenue support grant to local government and allow local councils to keep all business rates by 2020. We need to prepare for this and press the Government to implement this policy, which will give local authorities more control over their income.
“We need to become a sustainable community, create jobs and infrastructure for the increased population and keep our young people housed and working in Ribble Valley.
“We need to create more industrial estates and increase the borough’s retail, leisure and hospitality offer to match the needs of an increasing population.
“At the heart of our policies will be the rural economy, agriculture and tourism, the latter geared up to attract visitors to our fells, historic monuments and shopping centres.
“Enterprise and innovation will be our watchword – our message: Ribble Valley is open for business!”
The vision is outlined in more detail at ribblevalley.gov.uk. It is currently being worked up into a corporate plan that will be taken to the council’s policy and finance committee in due course.