A leading Cumbrian local authority chief will use his new role on an economic development body to champion a sustainable and growing UK economy post-Brexit.

Lawrence Conway, chief executive of South Lakeland District Council, has joined the board of directors of the Institute of Economic Development.

He has over 20 years’ experience in the public sector – including eight in his current role – and 15 years in private sector employment.

He said: “I’m very pleased to have been invited to help the IED in this capacity and I’m looking forward to the role immensely. It is a great challenge for me personally and I’m delighted to have the full backing of South Lakeland District Council.

“In the past 18 months, I’ve seen the IED gain traction, connectivity and make an impact.

"If you’re looking to help the country pre and post-Brexit, what better way to work towards that than through the IED which can bring local and national government influence and collaboration?”

He has already devised growth initiatives to help Cumbria realise its economic potential.

He said: "Around 44 per cent of all visitors to the Lake District come to South Lakeland – but what most people and importantly investors don’t see is the high-value jobs in advanced manufacturing and our other diverse sectors, often hidden from view due to our fantastic landscape.

“We need to encourage and produce more of these skilled jobs, making sure that people can afford to buy homes here. This, in turn, helps to keep young people in the area.”

He said the collective economic area strength of Morecambe Bay, which includes Barrow, was a power within the Northern Powerhouse with the county competing with major cities to have its voice heard.

“For example, the recent publication of the Transport for the North strategy seems to have not fully understood the part we can play,” he said.

“There is some recognition of the Energy Coast but how the region connects to other places is not yet articulated around its true functioning economic areas.

“Ultimately, we need initiatives on economic growth to gel, the same with health and housing, and while Carlisle to the north of Cumbria is our administrative centre we are also heavily dependent on looking south to our neighbours in Lancashire, Manchester and Liverpool.

“The Northern Powerhouse was a light that shone from central government; locally we need strong political and business leaders to ensure that we have a seat at the table and are listened to.

"The IED also has a role in representing the views of its members, who are geographically diverse.”

Lawrence is keen to ensure that the UK’s Industrial Strategy has not only the strategy but the structure to deliver growth and prosperity that benefits the nation, local communities and the most vulnerable in society – and highlighted how the IED can support that.

He added: “Economic development is the only sector that will deliver a sustainable and growing UK economy post-Brexit. It will affect our general wellbeing and shape our culture and society.

“There’s no-one else championing this space, and it’s a space that needs filling, so the Institute of Economic Development is perfectly positioned to ensure economic development can, and does, change and shape place and lives for the better.”