AMBITIOUS plans to attract millions of pounds worth of investment into Whitehaven have been moving a step closer this week as Copeland council’s bid for Government cash gathers pace.

The authority has now received £150,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to help develop its plans to secure a multi-million pound investment through the Future High Street Fund (FHSF).

But to give their bid the best possible chance of success, the executive this week agreed that they would seek another £50,000.

And should further funding be offered, councillors will seek approval from Full Council for the receipt and spending of up £350,000 for individual business plans to underpin the FHSF bid.

Mike Starkie, mayor of Copeland, said: “Obviously, we want our scheme to be as robust as possible and give Copeland the very best chance of winning millions of pounds of much-needed investment.”

Under the plans, each individual business plan would be developed for no more than £100,000.

An overview of the FHSF scheme for Whitehaven will be brought to the Executive in December 2019, with the full business case due to be approved in April before final submission to the Government.

A report from Sarah Mitchell, the council’s Economic Development Manager, has forecast that a successful bid would “bring improved economic prosperity with a knock-on increase in jobs, new businesses and visitors to the area”.

The emerging FHSF scheme for Whitehaven is due to go before the Executive on December 9, with the full Business Case due to be approved in April before final submission to MHCLG.

The council was told in July that its application had made it through to the next phase of assessment and were invited to develop a full business case for capital investment by the FHSF.

A recent consultation event carried out in the town recently attracted nearly 500 responses.

The council has already commissioned expert support to help them develop the bid.