South Ribble is top of jobs creation league

One of Leyland's success stories, Dr Oetker pizza factory has been credited for a major jobs boost in South Ribble
One of Leyland's success stories, Dr Oetker pizza factory has been credited for a major jobs boost in South Ribble

As many jobs were created in South Ribble as in Manchester and Liverpool combined over an eight-year period, a report shows

With 10,677 new posts, South Ribble is leading the way in economic growth in the North West, international auditors Grant Thornton have revealed.

It puts the district at the top of the tree for job creation in Lancashire and the North West, and in 16th place out of 324 regions across the country.

The figures have been put down to the success of several business parks including Walton Summit, Moss Side Business Park in Leyland and South Rings in Bamber Bridge, as well as the avoidance of major job losses affecting the likes of Lancashire County Council in Preston.

Major employers have also moved to South Ribble, including Waitrose, which has opened a distribution centre, and Dr Oetker which has moved a production line to Leyland.

Only last week, it was announced a new commercial, industrial and leisure development planned for the Cuerden Strategic Site could create up to 2,500 jobs.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire chamber of commerce said: “It’s not surprising. Some of our local businesses based there reads like a who’s who in the business community.

“We are extremely fortunate that visionary work on advanced manufacturing is now not only a national but an international focus for the translation of cutting edge research and production.

“Its strengths also lie in the service sector, construction industry and manufacturing sector which is a healthy mix for any local economy. Education and skills training are of the highest quality which underpin this growth”.

Figures from chartered accountants Grant Thornton are also underpinned by recent statistics from the Business Register Employment Survey, which showed that South Ribble enjoyed by far the highest growth of employee numbers in Lancashire in the last five years, with a rise of 11.6 per cent.

And the future for job creation in South Ribble looks bright too, with locations such as the government-backed enterprise zone at Samlesbury and the Cuerden Strategic Investment site, among others, identified under South Ribble Council’s local plan for significant employment use in the next 10 years.

Coun Phil Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, welcomed the figures.

He said: “We’ve been saying for a long time that South Ribble has been weathering the economic storm better than most, and these remarkable figures suggest that has been an understatement. They show that South Ribble is already at the heart of the North of England’s economic powerhouse, and we can be even stronger in the future through working with businesses and our partners to support growth.

“Development will fund improvements in the hearts of our towns and villages, as well as paving the way for ambitious projects like our huge new ‘Central Park’, which will help to maintain the green and pleasant nature of our borough.

“Managing our growth in such a co-ordinated way will help to maintain South Ribble as a first class place to live, work and play.

“South Ribble is very much open for business, with a thriving commercial community and sites identified for companies to develop and grow. There are many more exciting opportunities on the horizon, with the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal bringing forward 30 years of growth in the next decade.

“It will provide infrastructure to unlock the development potential of key sites, so we can look forward to thousands more jobs being created in the borough over the next few years.”