Chamber Chat with John Regan
This week I was privileged to be invited to the Official Opening of the Bay Gateway. Unfortunately by the time you are reading this we will have discovered that Princess Alexandra was unable to attend due to an accident but we were happy to welcome the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, who is the Queen’s Deputy.
The invitation was an honour not just for me but for the whole Chamber.
It was a recognition of the efforts put in by the Chamber to secure the link road.
The road had been in the planning for over 50 years and when it finally emerged as the major infrastructure project for the County it was essential for the whole community to get behind it.
Central Government have to be convinced that such a scheme will pay for itself in terms of economic benefit. They look for a road to provide something like 4 times its cost. The Chamber were able to provide evidence to the County Council that the benefit would be more like 6 times the cost. The economic argument was, therefore, clear.
The Chamber attempted to keep out of the arguments over the route. We knew the road was desperately needed and agreed to support whichever route was chosen.
Multimillion pound projects are not secured by any one individual or organisation but by them all working together and this is a lesson for the future. If we want something doing we need to get together.
There is an argument to be made for an Enterprise Zone to be created at the Heysham end of the road. We wait to be convinced about the exact position of that Zone but remain of the opinion that you cannot just build a road and expect instant employment and prosperity. Hopefully it won’t take another 50 years!