War of words over business as council plans for future

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Councillors are at loggerheads over plans to attract more jobs and businesses to Fylde.

Conservative and Independent councillors are split over how much land should be given over to employment and housing in the borough’s Local Plan.

Coun Liz Oades

Coun Liz Oades

Independent Kirkham Coun Liz Oades said the council’s employment land quota was double that of neighbouring Blackpool and Wyre combined – and that such a move could force housing developments onto more green land.

But her bid to get the council to take more time examining the proposals was criticised for potentially putting businesses off the area.

Conservatives believe any delay could put off potential investors.

Coun Edward Nash said the introduction of a working group would severely delay the Fylde Local Plan, and felt the need for business space in Fylde was urgent.

He added: “If there is slightly too much land then so what? But if we run out of space then we will lose businesses, never mind attracting them.”

Coun Tim Ashton said any hold up would mean Fylde ran the risk of falling further behind other councils in the country.

He said: “I would love for people in Fylde to live and work here, instead of travelling to Manchester, Preston and Liverpool.

“We want to be able to say to perspective employers that Fylde is open for business and it is the place to start and create jobs.”

But Coun Oades dismissed those claims as “ridiculous”.

She said: “We aren’t against employment for our borough, but we are aware that modern industry and working methods don’t need as much land on which to operate these days.”

“The policy, as it stands, suggests a small borough like Fylde will need more than twice as much employment land as Blackpool and Wyre together, this defies all logic.

“It will take one meeting, or two at the most, looking at the evidence.

“If the professional consultants in a public inquiry can explain to us why we are wrong, then we will hold our hands up and admit it.”

But Coun Ashton now believes the council is more divided than ever in what they want for the borough. He added: “There is now clear blue water between us and the independent councillors, we are focusing on the positives, and thinking what the best for Fylde could be rather than focusing on any negatives,” he said.

Fylde Council leader Coun David Eaves added: “We want people to know that Fylde is open for business.

“The message from us to business must be that we want you to come here, we want jobs and employment, and we don’t want anything to delay that.”