Chamber Chat with John O'Neill

September 08, 2016 - 12:00am

Chamber Chat with John O'Neill

In less than two months we will have a brand new bypass from the M6 to Heysham that should alleviate many of the traffic pressures that has held development back in the District, but the road is just the beginning, and not the end of the conversation.

We need to seriously think where we want the District to be in 10, 20 and even 50 years’ time. Do we want it to be a key player in developing industries or do we just want to be “that bit of North Lancashire you drive through to get to the Lake District?” Technology is changing the way we live, work and play, but there are certain industries that we will always need. What is certain is that many jobs, both skilled and professional, can and will be replaced by technology, and it’s just a matter of time.

Given our geographical location, we are in a very envious position and the District’s old marketing slogan of “City, coast and countryside” perfectly encapsulates the area we live in and I guess that’s a reason why many of us live, or moved, here. This is something I believe we should really capitalise on. Not many Heritage cities have Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, places of Special Scientific Interest (like Morecambe Bay) and National Parks literally on their doorstep. Add to this our rich history, with plenty more being discovered all the time and you will find this is our Unique Selling Proposition and something we should be taking to the world.

The next 50 years will certainly be a challenge but nothing we haven’t faced before. We are an innovative and skilled nation, and many of our industries are still world-beaters. We still have the skills so let’s use them before we lose them.