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Controversial Rossendale business park gets first tenants
3:51pm Saturday 30th June 2012 in News
A BUSINESS park built by Lancashire County Council has welcomed its first tenants after laying empty for 18 months - the council’s own social workers.
Controversy has surrounded the construction of the £6million Rising Bridge Enterprise Village, which was built by the county council’s enterprise arm, and been vacant for around 18 months.
Work was completed by Lancashire County Developments Ltd despite there being a number of private-sector vacancies across the Haslingden and Rawtenstall areas.
But now social services staff, who formerly worked at the Globe Centre in Accrington, have relocated to the pavilion-style premises.
Because of a deal signed with BT, which announced proposals for a 300-strong call centre in Hyndburn in April, hundreds of county council workers needed to find a new home.
MP Graham Jones, who represents Hyndburn and Haslingden, has been a long-standing critic of the enterprise village deal.
“The county council is just putting their own staff in there. I did believe they were social workers,” he said last night.
Elsewhere the county council has been pursuing a programme of closing down outlying offices, with youth advice shops, welfare rights offices and social services offices being closed down in favour of retaining a reduced number of ‘hubs’ in each district.
The village was built via a partnership between the council, Rossendale Council and the former Northwest Development Agency.
Coun Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, said: “There are at least some tenants in there now, which is encouraging.”
Eddie Sutton, the county council’s assistant chief executive, said: “"We have moved some of our staff into Rising Bridge, as part of wider economic developments in the area.
“The people who have moved work for our children and young people directorate, as well as adult and community services.
“There is a clear economic benefit to the local area from people moving into Rising Bridge and visiting local shops and other businesses.
“There are still some vacant units and we will continue to market Rising Bridge to the commercial sector as a high-quality business development."
Five of the nine units remain vacant on the site, which is situated between Blackburn Road and Rising Bridge Road.