Members of Barrow’s new Town Deal Board have met for the first time to help champion future growth and investment for the area.
The role of the board will be to create a roadmap for Barrow’s economic development to ensure the town thrives as a place in which to live and work for generations to come.
It will also negotiate with the Government for funding to help drive forward its strategy and vision.
Steve Cole, chief infrastructure officer at BAE Systems, is chairman of the Town Deal Board, which met for the first time on Thursday, January 23.
He described the first meeting as an exciting moment for Barrow.
“There’s a growing excitement and optimism regarding the future of Barrow and I’m delighted to be part of the group helping to drive this forward.
“The first meeting of the new Town Deal Board was a significant step in this journey and I’m delighted to be working alongside other members of the board in helping shape and deliver a brighter future for Barrow.”
Barrow is in line to receive a share of the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund after it was shortlisted last year.
The Town Deal Board will focus on winning funding for regeneration, infrastructure and skills projects and will consult with the community on what priorities residents want to see.
Its membership is drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors who will act in an advisory capacity to Barrow Borough Council.
Its first task is to help develop an investment plan which will be submitted to the government this summer.
Councillor Ann Thomson, Barrow Borough Council leader, welcomed the launch of the Town Deal Board as the key to unlocking up to £25 million of funding for regeneration.
She said: “This funding has the potential to secure a bright future for Barrow.
“The Town Deal Board brings together people with a huge amount of experience and expertise to help create a successful proposal for funding from the Towns Fund.
“This is an exciting time for our community as we look to find ways to create new jobs, develop skills and support businesses in Barrow for years to come.”
Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell said this was a vitally important project for the town.
“I’m really glad to have attended the first Barrow Town Deal Board meeting.
“The calibre of the people around the table shows how important this project is. It could transform the town and bring real benefits to us all.
“Now we have to knuckle down and show that Barrow means business.”
Cumbria County Councillor Anne Burns said:
“This is the beginning of a good conversation about how we can all work together to use this fund to create opportunities and jobs for people in Barrow, to support small businesses and to make a significant and positive impact on our town.
"We still have too many young people here whose aspirations are not high enough. We have to use this opportunity for funding to make sure everyone has a series of options and possibilities they can aim for and work towards in the future."
Jo Lappin, Cumbria LEP chief executive, said:
“The LEP recognises the excellent opportunity that the Towns Fund presents for Barrow to take forward its ambitious plans for the town. “We are therefore delighted to be involved in the newly formed Town Board and look forward to supporting the development of the Investment Plan.”