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Northern Powerhouse boss talks economic growth with #AmazingAccrington group

Community and industry leaders in Hyndburn joined forces to discuss major infrastructure proposals

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Northern Powerhouse Partnership meeting with key community and business leaders in Hyndburn. Ken Shackleton, managing director of The Cardboard Box Company.

Community and industry leaders in Hyndburn have joined forces to put the borough ‘on the map’ of the Northern Powerhouse.

The #AmazingAccrington group welcomed Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, to Accrington and Rossendale College to discuss what benefits the economic growth scheme can have.

The meeting was attended by Hyndburn council, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and key businesses representatives including Andy Holt, chairman of Accrington Stanley and managing director of What More UK, and managing directors Ken Shackleton, of The Cardboard Box Company, David McMurray, of McMurrays Haulage Limited and Boyd Hargreaves, of Oswaldtwistle Mills.

The agenda focused on attracting inward investment, creating a ‘fertile ground for businesses to grow and to improve’ and lobbying for transport and communications infrastructure upgrades.

This week the government allocated another £300 million investment in rail transport to the north along with a further £100 million for roads to improve connectivity from west to east.

Joe McIntyre, deputy chief executive of Hyndburn council, revealed how they have been lobbying the government for investment for 2,000 new homes in Huncoat and also for and expansion of Manchester’s Metrolink system into Accrington.

Mr Murison, who was appointed by former chancellor George Osborne, praised the group and stressed how the ‘collective bargaining ability the group could achieve would put Accrington in a great position for investment’.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership meeting with key community and business leaders in Hyndburn.

He said: “It’s about getting yourself on the map and making people want to do business here, invest here and, most importantly, wanting young people who grow up here to do well in life, which is something that if you can pull together to achieve, you’ve got a great future ahead of you.”

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “#AmazingAccrington is starting to get a buzz now, we have the local authority speaking, we have people coming in attracting powerful people and businesses to come in and speak to us, and it is ours to now grab hold of and make it work.”

The group’s next meeting is on January 18, 2018.

Hyndburn council asks Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry 'What about us?'

Hyndburn council will urge the Northern Powerhouse minister to support major infrastructure developments that will have a ‘positive impact on residents’.

Councillors have supported a motion calling for the expansion of the M66 and A56 to help reduce congestion and the expansion of the Metrolink into Hyndburn and Rossendale.

Great Harwood councillor Noordad Aziz has accused Jake Berry, who is MP for the neighbouring Rossendale and Darwen constituency, of ‘forgetting about us’ and claims ‘we are getting left behind’.

Proposing the motion at Hyndburn’s full council meeting, he called on the Northern Powerhouse minister to show ‘blatant support’ for the infrastructure improvements along with direct rail links from East Lancashire to Manchester Airport, the re-establishment of the Skipton to Colne Rail Link, and extending the M65 into Yorkshire.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Aziz said: “The benefits of the above infrastructure investment schemes to the whole of the region would be considerable.

“East Lancashire communities are among the most deprived in the UK and improved transport links would provide improved infrastructure for business.

“Jake Berry is the Northern Powerhouse Minister.

“He’s been in places like Sunderland and Whitehaven but whatabout right here on his own doorstep?

“Why are we getting left behind?

“We need to work as a collective and shout for the infrastructure and development because I think we can make a change. It is about shouting loudly.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP (left) with Professor Nick Wright at Newcastle University's National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering in Wallsend, North Tyneside

Coun Aziz said he had written to Mr Berry four times but had yet to receive a response.

Conservative group leader Councillor Tony Dobson said they would support the motion but said Mr Berry is ‘very much aware’ of the issues.

He told the meeting: “We were at an event with Jake Berry last week and had a conversation about his new role in government and all the different projects that we’ve spoken about.

“He is very much aware of it.

“But I think as all councils will know the projects that we are looking to push are not ‘here today’ kind of projects.

“They need a lot of planning and organisation. But the Conservative group will be supporting the motion.”

Mr Berry said he had never received any letters or emails from Coun Aziz.

He told the Observer he had visited Blackburn, Darwen and Rossendale council leaders and business leaders in Pendle and Hyndburn since his appointment as minister.

He added: “I would have thought that Hyndburn council would be pleased that a Lancashire MP has been put at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse project.

“This government is investing £13 billion in the north’s infrastructure, more than any government in history, and I’ve been working closely with Transport for the North on plans to improve both the M66 and M65 corridors, both long term challenges that will need long term sustainable solutions to improve our local connectivity.

“The reinstatement of a rail link to Rossendale suffered a major setback when it was kicked into the long grass by the then Labour-led Lancashire County Council. I am hopeful that with the change of power at County Hall this will now be reinstated as a priority to improve transport between East Lancashire and Greater Manchester.”