Initiative set to create more than 700 jobs to help regenerate West Cumbria communities gains vital funding

AN INITIATIVE which will regenerate communities across West Cumbria and create more than 700 jobs has won vital financial backing to fund its programme.

iSH (the Industrial Solutions Hub) which will bring employment, skills and training opportunities to West Cumbria has received funding support from Copeland Borough Council and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

At a meeting of Copeland Borough Council’s full council yesterday (Tuesday June 21), members voted to accept £2.329m from the Sellafield impact fund, £7m from the NDA’s socio economic fund and to put in a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund Round 2 to support iSH.

Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, said: “This is an exciting day for Copeland, West Cumbria and the region.
“iSH will lift the aspirations of those living and working in Copeland and bring opportunities for all.
“Its reach can be global and its positive impact will be felt across Copeland, West Cumbria and beyond. This is the largest investment into Cleator Moor for generations.”
iSH is an initiative led by Copeland Borough Council with the support of key stakeholders including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and private sector supply chain partners.

Copeland Borough Council chief executive Pat Graham said: “I am delighted that Copeland is leading the way by backing this programme. iSH is an opportunity which will benefit every generation and will bring wide-ranging benefits to the whole region.”

Jamie Reed, NDA Director of Socio-Economics, said: “The NDA and Sellafield Ltd have worked with local partners over recent years to bring these ideas forward and to ensure that the Industrial Solutions Hub has reached this point.

“This is part of a series of socio-economic projects we have collectively helped to fund over recent years including Campus Whitehaven, the Bus Station and more.

“Our socio-economic agenda is an important part of our legacy as we continue to make progress against our decommissioning mission and we’re committed to working with local partners to co-create future projects that help to strengthen and diversify the local economy.”

John Maddison, managing director of iSH which will have its base in Cleator Moor, said: “This is an exciting day for iSH and we thank those in Copeland Borough Council, the NDA and Sellafield who have given our programme their support and this vital financial backing.

“We have ambitious plans to bring opportunity and prosperity to the area through industry, business, skills and social programmes which will make a positive difference to people’s lives and regenerate communities across West Cumbria.

“iSH is an initiative of regional, national and international significance which will create jobs, opportunities for businesses and organisations to collaborate, enhance skills, provide business support, and bring a range of economic, environmental and social benefits to the community.

“We will build on the industry excellence of Sellafield and its supply chain and through collaboration will turn that into opportunities for businesses and organisations to grow and create more skills, training and employment.”
A range of businesses, entrepreneurs and organisations have already been actively involved in conversations with iSH about wanting to take space on the soon-to-be revitalised Leconfield Industrial Estate in Cleator Moor.
iSH’s economic assessment has estimated that the initial redevelopment of the Leconfield Industrial Estate and land owned by Copeland Borough Council, supported through Town Deal, will generate more than 100 new jobs over a period of 18 months, with the overall scheme creating more than 700 new jobs in the next 10 to 15 years.
A community-led initiative, iSH is also already inspiring young people in Copeland. More than 100 schoolchildren from St Patrick’s and Montreal schools found out about exciting opportunities iSH will create at a community launch held in Cleator Moor.
John said: “It’s important for everyone that schools and the whole community have a clear pathway to the opportunities that will be created through iSH. It is a genuinely inclusive programme which offers jobs, skills, and training opportunities for all, including those who otherwise might be overlooked.”
Part of the initial funding for the iSH project comes through the Cleator Moor Town Deal. The Town Deal Board, working with Copeland Borough Council, secured an offer of £22.5m from Government in June 2021 to deliver its Town Investment Plan which will help the area and its communities to thrive for years to come.

One of the Investment Plan projects is Enterprising Town, Phase 1 of iSH to develop new facilities at the Leconfield Estate in Cleator Moor in order to harness new employment opportunities for the community and to attract further investment and skills to the area.

The Town Deal project at Leconfield focuses on utilising funding offered by the Government and other sources to create a new, flexible hub and commercial building space as well as improvements and landscaping to the existing site, benefiting both the community and estate tenants through the longer term development of skills and business support.

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