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28 February 2019, 07:52
The defence secretary has put his weight behind a plan to transform Barrow town centre.
It's hoped it could help the shipyard retain and attract vital staff.
Gavin Williamson pledged to lobby government colleagues to fund the long-stalled marina village proposal and a plan to boost footfall in the struggling town centre.
It's a major boost as community leaders prepare to submit a bid to the government's new fund to improve high streets across the country and continue discussions with Homes England over the long-delayed marina village plan.
Barrow Borough Council needs to secure around £10 million of public funds to make the 22 hectares of land off Salthouse Road fit for construction of the 650 homes.
Mr. Williamson claimed the plans "could make a real difference to attracting the people we need for the submarine programme".
He added: "To ensure Dreadnought is delivered on time and to budget we need to make sure we can keep local talent and bring new skills in so its good to see the community coming together like this.
"I'm glad John has shown me the local vision for the marina and town centre and I will be making the case to my ministerial colleagues that supporting these schemes could significantly benefit the national submarine endeavour."
Speaking after his meeting with Scarborough-born Mr Williamson, Mr Woodcock said: "It was great to get the defence secretary's backing for our ambitious Barrow transformation plan. Coming from a northern industrial town himself, the secretary of state said he got the need for new urban housing and help for our town centre. He said he was all too aware of recruitment and retention issues for staff and agreed to stress to his ministerial colleagues the wider benefit to UK PLC of helping Barrow in this way.
"Defence secretaries don't normally get involved in town centres and bus routes, but investing a few million now could save literally hundreds of millions of pounds across the life of the submarine programme. That has got to make sense and I hope his colleagues listen to the case we are making."