The influential vice chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership is to press the case for devolution in Cumbria at an event next week.

Lord Jim O’Neill will address business and community leaders at UCLan’s Samuel Lindow on Westlakes Science and Technology Park, near Whitehaven, on Wednesday, November 27.

Lord O’Neil will argue that devolution is a pre-requisite for unlocking the full potential of the county – and more than just an election issue.

“We believe Cumbria has huge economic potential because of its economic assets in nuclear, wider energy and advanced manufacturing, including defence and much wider strength in small and medium sized enterprises,” he said.

“Clearly it will be down to local leaders to determine at what geography a devolved model would work in Cumbria and what powers should be requested.

“As a starting point, two key priorities to unlocking the potential of the Northern Powerhouse are transport and skills.

“A clear ask for further responsibility over these two policy areas in Cumbria, building on the Borderlands Growth Deal, ambition to work more closely with neighbours to the south of the county and West Cumbria, would provide solid foundations for a considered proposal to central government.

“It should also make clear what could be achieved in return for the granting of such powers and appropriate funding.”

Mr O’Neill said the elected mayoral model was working for Tees Valley, Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region and North of Tyne, with clear evidence power and funding was being passed down and having an impact.

The NPP wants to see devolution rolled out across the North. It has written to General Election candidates in Cumbria, and other areas without devolved powers, seeking support for its push.

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