THREE local authorities around Morecambe Bay have taken a significant step on their journey working together to boost the area.
South Lakeland District Council, Lancaster City Council and Barrow Borough Council have all now agreed to create a formal, shared link between the three councils to build on our collective strengths and increasing our capacity to deliver on key issues affecting the region.
The Lancaster and South Cumbria Joint Committee will promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the areas, driving growth in shared areas such as the visitor economy, culture, energy, advanced manufacturing, digital technologies, life sciences, health innovation and higher education.
The committee's formation was discussed at meetings of each council this month and agreed by all three separately.
The joint committee’s establishment is the next stage in the councils' joint work of the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region partnership, which launched in June last year and has been promoting its work directly with Ministers, MPs and bodies such as the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
The committee will be a key strategic forum, making representations and recommendations to national and local government, Local Enterprise Partnerships and others on issues such as economic prosperity; climate emergency; reducing inequality; and economic, social and environmental wellbeing development decision making.
It will also have direct and strategic oversight of key growth-focused projects and initiatives across the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region.
Councillor Ann Thomson, leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: "This is an important moment as all three authorities can now move forward on a formal footing to speak with a joined up, powerful voice for the area.
"Our strengths are many, with innovation abounding in sectors like energy, advanced manufacturing, culture and tourism to name but a few.
"This agreement will allow us to harness new economic opportunities for the future as well as empowering our ability to tackle shared key issues like poverty and climate change without the restriction of a border on a map."
Councillor Giles Archibald, leader of South Lakeland District Council, said: "We already have excellent collaboration with Lancaster and Barrow and by establishing this committee we can ensure we continue to collaborate and enhance our economic co-operation.
"Morecambe Bay is a functioning economic area and we have already taken steps to take advantage of collaboration between the districts, for example by producing a prospectus for possible investors and generating a draft growth deal which was presented to ministers last year.
"This will help us to better realise and capitalise on the opportunities which present themselves."
Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: "Together, our three councils represent an area, that to many people already is one community, through family connections, education and work.
"Our councils have been working together over the past three years to develop plans that will build on regional strengths and opportunities, as well as the distinctive sense of place and strong community.
"Forming a joint committee provides a way of formalising our shared work, and strengthens our capacity to work together using our collective resources to meet the climate emergency, support our regional economy and reduce inequality in our communities."