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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Jobs and schemes at risk as Energy Coast threatened with £5m hit

BRITAIN’S Energy Coast West Cumbria expects to take an early £5 million “hit” to its hopes of launching key projects in Copeland and Allerdale.

And at the same time staff working directly to help make the schemes become reality have been put on an “at risk” register as funding from a government quango is due to run out early next year.

They will have the chance to apply for jobs in an expected new structure along with other regeneration movers and shakers working in Cumbria County Council but whose pay also comes from the North West Development Agency.

Less money for regeneration could lead to loss of jobs from top officers down.

Meanwhile, Copeland’s three top schemes, all in Whitehaven, hang in the balance. These are the big Albion Square office development, the Transport Interchange which hinges on the multi-million Tesco expansion, and Pow Beck.

Whitehaven rugby league club’s current financial difficulties have put another potential spanner in the works of the proposed new £11 million sports stadium incorporating rugby league and soccer.

Stumbling blocks delaying all three schemes surround land acquisition but it still hopes these can be ironed out and the projects remain on the “A” list of the Energy Coast Masterplan which up to now has promised a £2 billion package of regeneration creating several thousand new jobs. Energy Board chairman, ex-Labour Energy minister Brian Wilson, warns that it is “a race against time”.

And projects may take a bigger hit once the coalition government reveals the full extent of public spending cuts on October 20. As things stand, he says, that nuclear money is a saving grace - Sellafield parent body Nuclear Management Partners are putting around £22 million to help finance the Masterplan over the next few years.

“Mercifully, we still have the nuclear money,” said Mr Wilson. But the NWDA is facing extinction with the rapid run down of its funding as a prelude. Things are still in a state of flux and we do not yet know final figures - but the axe is not going to be wielded gently. What this certainly means for Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria is that we are going to be a lot more focused in the kind of projects we can support. A lot of good things that were going to happen will go on the back burner.

“I am anxious to safeguard projects where a high level of public expectation has been created bit will not be easy.”

A county council spokesman said: “The majority of funding for our work in economic development has been funded by the NWDA. A total of 77 people work for the county council in this field, 45 of these posts are funded by the NWDA.”

About 13 of the fulltime posts are linked directly to the West Cumbria Energy Coast projects.There is to be no more NWDA funding from next April.Future funding could come through the creation of NEPS - Local Enterprise Partnerships but it could amount to a lot less following the government’s big spending review.“We are working on a new structure for economic regeneration in the county and staff who are on the at risk register will be able to apply for jobs in any new structure,” said the spokesman.No Copeland Council staff are affected.

Have your say

Why are we suprised at copeland councils handling of the three major projects proposed for Whitehaven. All of the projects have not just recently been proposed they have been ongoing for years any other council would have acted quickly to ensure these projects would happen in the interest of Whitehaven and ultimately copeland. why have we waited so long? yes greedy landowners who want more than the value this includes the miners who by the way are ex miners who have held whitehaven to ransom just let them remember that nearly every family have had miners in their family therefore, the interest of whitehaven should be first and foremost not just left in the hands of the few. Secondly private landowers should have had there land compulsory purchased in the interest of the majoriy instead of holding us to ransom. Especially ares which in any other place would be regarded as eye sores and dumps.

its probaly to late for these projects due to the credit crunch what a waste and a loss for us all. However one saving grace for us. The credit crunch did stop west cumberland hospital being bulit at lilly hall due to the saving of land costs. If you want a go ahead council look to allerdale see how ASDA was fast tracked.

Posted by mr g short on 5 October 2010 at 23:39

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