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#InTheCity Feb 22nd event wrap-up | Preston Partnership update and Lancashire devolution

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Development updates, devolution and our branded badges were the hot topics covered at Preston Partnership’s first #InTheCity event of 2024.

The much-anticipated event was held on Thursday February 22, 2024, where over 80 members from the private and public sector gathered at Cotton Court Business Centre to hear about Preston Partnership and Preston’s role in Lancashire’s new devolution deal.

Positive Preston

Kicking proceedings off, our chair John Chesworth talked about the journey of the partnership and welcomed our new board members.

He said: “The partnership’s aim is to build closer ties between the public and private sector and to work with local authorities and partners to shape ideas and support investment opportunities.”

John highlighted Preston Partnership’s role in the creation of the Towns Fund board which secured £20.9m to kickstart the £200m Harris Quarter Investment Programme, and the partnership’s work in securing £80,000 through the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to help relaunch Preston Partnership.

He also provided development updates on a number of key Preston projects such as Animate, Amounderness House, Preston Youth Zone and the Harris Your Place Project.

Speaking on the future, John said: “We want to build an ambitious community, one that will get Preston to where it should be; a city that is world renowned for its industry, a trailblazer in many ways, that can stand on its own nationally and internationally.”

He added: “While ambition is a good start, there is still plenty of work to be done. We’re looking to reengage with our members to help tell Preston’s story and build a relentlessly positive profile for our city.”

Preston Partnership has a role to play in devolution

Next up, Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation, and Pete Thomas, program manager at Lancashire County Council, provided an update on Lancashire’s devolution deal and how Preston can play a key role in the wider plans.

The proposal focuses on an improved adult education budget, having a strategic role in delivering services, supporting local businesses, control of sustainable transport and investment spending, all of which would drive regeneration and provide a boost to businesses and people across the region.

Describing the plans as a ‘collective opportunity’, Pete said: “Following approval, a new Combined County Authority (CCA) would be established that would create a new, democratically led body to speak for Lancashire, that has a focussed set of priorities.”

He reiterated the importance of local organisations like Preston Partnership and how it can feed into the CCA with input from its members and local authorities, stating that the voice of the business community needs to be heard, not just the politicians.

Andy revealed the timeline for a new Lancashire Economic Strategy, which would be created in the new six months. The strategy would need to be endorsed by a new Combined Authority Business Board, made up of 15 representatives from private, public and third sector organisations, as well as the sub-groups that sit underneath, which would include over 200 companies.

Andy added: “Once completed, our new economic strategy could lead to Lancashire having one of the most successful economies in the North of England. We want to shift the competing mindset in Lancashire. Competition should be with other UK regions, not the towns and cities within Lancashire.”

The session ended with a Q&A with the speakers, covering topics such as improvements to local transport, how our most vulnerable residents will be represented in the future and how the community play a part in Preston’s journey.

Preston dates for your diary

Our business development manager, Beckie Joyce, closed the event by discussing the benefits of joining the partnership, encouraging guests to become part of a growing movement to drive Preston forward.

She said that in order to have a meaningful impact and influence on future policies, the partnership needs to be made up of members from all corners of Preston’s business community.

Beckie explained that the partnership is still very much in its infant stage, essentially acting as a start-up. Beckie said: “We want to retain our own independence, while working closely with the City’s anchor institutions to help shape future development.”

She also shared details of the next Preston Quarter Club event, which Preston Partnership is sponsoring alongside BEK Geo-Environmental Consultants on Thursday 7 March, 2024 at Bar Pintxos, and the date for next event #InnovationInTheCity, taking place on Thursday 18 April, 2024 at Cotton Court Business Centre.

For further information on our events programme, visit our events page.

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(Sept 1st 2023 - August 31st 2024)

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