This time last week, I was waking up in a very snowy but extraordinarily beautiful Cumbria as I had taken my wife to Sharrow Bay to celebrate her birthday. Driving up there I was reminded yet again how stunning the countryside is and in the snow the hills looked a little like marshmallows sprinkled with a powdering of icing sugar. I must say that the hotel is fantastic and the food was amazing so if you get the chance to spend some time there it comes with my complete recommendation, but I digress.
I read this week that the newly formed LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) in Cumbria has appointed George Beveridge of Nuclear Management Partners as the interim chair of its board. It is fitting that somebody with such experience of the nuclear sector should be heading up the LEP. West Cumbria has 60% of the UK’s nuclear facilities accounting for 40% of the economy of the entire county and Sellafield Ltd is the county’s largest private sector employer with the biggest reach and influence.
One of the key tasks the LEP has identified for itself is to promote and support opportunities for expansion, especially sales opportunities overseas in the burgeoning low carbon market. UKTI staff are supporting this drive and we look forward to a future of great success for the sector. When I drive through Cumbria I am always struck by the great natural beauty of the area but this can mask a steely determination to get things done. When I was there in the summer I saw several great examples of leading edge manufacturing firms with fantastically well skilled people driving the businesses forward. Although tourism is rightly important for the county, it has much more to offer - and with the engineering and low carbon sectors to the fore I am sure they will succeed.
There’s a lot to be done, but in his first few weeks in office may I wish George and the rest of the board of the LEP all the best in their efforts in developing and growing Cumbria’s economy whilst at the same time maintaining its uniqueness of landscape, culture and quality of life.