Top civil servants in Barrow to discuss vision for town’s transformation

The UK’s leading civil servants have been in Barrow discussing opportunities to transform the town into a new powerhouse for the North.

Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Simon Case led a high-level delegation as they met with senior figures from BAE Systems, Westmorland and Furness Council, Cumbria LEP and Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell to hear about the ambitious vision for the town and potential areas for Government support.

In talks at Barrow Town Hall, BAE Systems laid out the huge expansion of jobs that will be created in the area to meet the AUKUS submarine deal. The company expects to grow its workforce by more than 50 per cent, creating 6,000 new employment opportunities in the next 15 years.

The area is also at the forefront of decarbonisation efforts across offshore wind, gas, low carbon generation and storage opportunities and home to a fast-growing sector in clean growth and innovation.

Westmorland and Furness Council set out the opportunities and challenges faced in improving infrastructure and the housing offer to ensure the potential benefit of the jobs’ growth was transformational, inclusive and long lasting.

This would include more attractive, affordable and contemporary homes for younger residents, to encourage more people to work in the town. And, alongside this, prioritising the improvement of road, rail and sea connectivity to increase capacity and help the movement of workforce and materials for submarine production.

Westmorland and Furness Council Leader Cllr Jonathan Brook said: “This has been an opportunity to lay out all the reasons why Barrow, as a global leader in high tech sectors, is so well placed to be an economic catalyst for the wider area.

“We welcome this chance to show government how investment will be used to drive positive change.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring the growth and investment brings longer term change in the aspirations of our communities, to address structural and long-term poverty and health inequalities and provide social and economic benefits across multiple generations.

“There is a collective will to maximise the upcoming opportunities and we look forward to continuing to work with government and our partners to realise the full potential for our communities.”

BAE Systems Submarines Managing Director Steve Timms said: “I was delighted to join Westmorland and Furness Council in welcoming the Cabinet Secretary and a cross-Government team of senior officials to Barrow. What we do is a truly national endeavour and nowhere is this more important than here in South Cumbria, where for generations our highly-skilled workforce has proudly delivered world-class submarines to the Royal Navy.

“The recent AUKUS announcement, along with the Government’s ongoing commitment to the UK submarine programme, presents the town with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform and regenerate the area. Recruiting new people and providing high-quality, skilled jobs in an attractive place to live and work is a vital component of this, as is the need to retain our current employees.

“This was the first time such a meeting has taken place in Barrow and we now look forward to continuing to work together to address some of the key challenges facing the town in order to create a better and brighter future for the community and deliver the UK’s defence and security requirements for generations to come.”

The delegation visited the BAE Systems shipyard, and had a tour of the town centre, including the Market Hall site which is set for reinvigoration from £16 million of Levelling Up Funding for the heart of the town centre.

The visit followed comments from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, who earlier this week highlighted Barrow’s potential and plans to work closely with local partners to transform the town for decades to come.

He said: “Barrow is the home of engineering excellence, the site of significant new investment over the next four decades, and of course it will be building the submarines of the future through the historic AUKUS deal.

“We want Barrow to be a new powerhouse for the North – extending beyond its current boundaries with thousands of new homes and space for new businesses to benefit from the scientific and technical expertise already clustered there.”

Mr Gove was detailing plans for regeneration across England in places with high-growth potential in partnership with local communities.

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