Green shoots of recovery

Message: Ann Turner and Edwin Booth at the opening of Myerscough College's new engineering section.
Message: Ann Turner and Edwin Booth at the opening of Myerscough College's new engineering section.

The green shoots of recovery are growing in greater Garstang – prompting hopes of a happy new year for 2013.

Civic and commercial enterprises are planning big investments and initiatives which, in one case –Myerscough College – will see will see millions of pounds invested over the next 12 months.

College officials learned this week the campus is to become the base for a new skills training centre, to be built at a cost of £2.4m.

It will help unemployed people gain skills as well as being a training base for young apprentices.

News of the government’s support for the skills centre at Myerscough came at the same time as the college celebrated the opening its new £4.4m engineering centre and officials unveiled plans for a £2m veterinary centre.

Myerscough College principal Ann Turner welcomed the investments at the campus, saying: “Backing projects such as our new skills centre sends out the right message for the Government. The new centre will provide a range of options for students, including short course education qualifications, pre-apprenticeship training and specialist skills training.

“Apprenticeships have seen rapid growth in recent years - with the construction of a dedicated skills centre; we anticipate the creation of many more apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the coming years.”

Building is due to start next summer 2013 with likely completion in the first half of 2014.

Exact student numbers are not yet known, although the college plans to offer a wide range of courses. Up to 400 students will benefit, but the college does not yet know if it will employ additional staff to work in the new centre.

Mrs Turner, staff and students learned of the latest boost for Myerscough at the same time as last week’s opening of a £4.4m engineering centre.

The new centre boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including specialist workshops for agricultural vehicle and construction plant maintenance, specialist welding workrooms, six fully equipped engineering workshops, tool hire facilities, classrooms, and a new increased capacity machine storage centre, which provides a high-tech new home for the college’s fleet of construction, plant and agriculture vehicles.

The boosts to the rural economy come as unemployment is dropping.

Latest unemployment statistics show unemployment figures year-on-year reflecting a downward trend. There were 714 jobless peoples in Wyre/Preston North compare with 817 last year.

MP Ben Wallace said: “This proves we are going in the right direction. Out of the 650 constituencies in the UK we are 630th which means we have a very low rate of unemployment currently running at 1.7% of the economically active population.”

Other moves welcomed in Garstang and district include hopes among Wyre Council’s leaders to be able to freeze council tax levels at the current level next year. Garstang traders will find out early next year more details of the council’s plans to help provide business support packages to help local firms.

The bid is the latest economic initiative aimed at helping businesses in the town centre.

Garstang Chamber of Trade spokesman Mr Damina Carr said: “Any help for business is welcome, particularly in this economic climate. It is great to see various new businesses opening up in Garstang and shows great confidence in our town.”

Wyre Council has already announced plans to spend almost £65,000 on community projects in Preesall, Great Eccleston and Hambleton wards, including an upgrade of Great Eccleston village centre.