Blackpool’s proposed new energy college, the construction of the A585 relief road and extending the Coastal Communities Fund are among the priorities laid out by Chancellor George Osborne for the first 100 days of the next government if the Tories are re-elected.
Mr Osborne made the commitment, as part of a timetable to build a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, during a visit to Cleveleys yesterday when he was quizzed by local business owners.
He told The Gazette the £10m National Onshore Oil and Gas College, first announced last November and to be built off Yeadon Way, would bring skilled jobs to the Fylde.
The Chancellor said: “It’s really important we continue to create jobs and skills here.
“It is a lasting commitment to this area that the energy resources of this area, the offshore and the like, can be put to the benefit of local people and local people can get the jobs that are involved in it.
“I think what people have seen this last year is instead of the long years of neglect by the Labour party, we have created jobs and we are getting investment.
The future of the northern economy is on the ballot paper next week.George Osborne
“The A585 is being built and if you talk to the local community here, there are more projects and ideas about how to improve things still further and get the jobs and investment here and I am determined to make that happen.” Mr Osborne added the creation of an enterprise zone at Blackpool Airport, which he announced in his budget in March, was another huge opportunity.
He said: “Paul (Maynard) came to see me in my office in the House of Commons with Mark (Menzies) and said, can we get support for this and I was really impressed by the plans they put together.
“I think that’s a real concrete example of the benefits of having a strong local MP and I’m really optimistic we can create more jobs in future here and see this as a really dynamic thriving economy.
“In fact the business community that is represented here is really upbeat about the future and really energised.”
The Chancellor added he realised the north had lost out to the success of London and the south in the past, and it was time to rebalance the economy.
He added: “The future of the northern economy is on the ballot paper next week.”
Also along for the ride was Tory grandee and former MP Edwina Currie who canvassed local traders.
John Prothero, who owns Fredericks on Victoria Road West, was among the business owners who quizzed Mr Osborne.
He said afterwards: “We chucked questions at him that he had no idea were coming and he was quite impressive with the answers.
“I am pleased transport links and the sea defences are priorities, business rates and rentals are also an issue.”
Prime Minister David Cameron was also in the region yesterday visiting east Lancashire.
Chancellor challenged on jobs
The Chancellor had arrived in Cleveleys aboard a vintage bus along with Conservative candidate Paul Maynard who is bidding to be re-elected MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, and his campaign team.
Mr Maynard said: “It was great to bring the Chancellor to Cleveleys which is a unique town that is changing for the better.”
But Labour candidate Sam Rushworth challenged Mr Osborne’s comments on jobs and investment.
He said: “The Centre for Cities study says there are 10 per cent fewer jobs on the Fylde coast than before the global crisis.”
The other candidates are: Sue Close (Lib Dem), Simon Noble (UKIP), James Walsh (Northern Party) and John Warnock (Green Party).