PRIME Minister Theresa May - in one of her final acts as Premier - has expanded the role of an East Lancashire MP.

Rossendale and Darwen's Jake Berry's Northern Powerhouse portfolio now straddles the Ministry of Housing and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it has been confirmed.

His widened brief now means there are two East Lancs Conservatives with influence over workplace matters, with Pendle's Andrew Stephenson drafted in as Business and Industry Minister in April.

East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has heralded Mrs May's decision - but called for greater accountability when it comes to measuring the initiative's successes or otherwise.

Mr Berry has been tasked with ensuring policies like the Stronger Towns Fund and the Northern Powerhouse are successfully delivered, the latter being part of their modern industrial strategy.

He said: "At the heart of the Northern Powerhouse is an unshakeable partnership between business, communities and government.

"We're investing more into transport in the North than any other Government in history, and with nearly 50 per cent of the north being represented by Metro Mayors, a Northern Powerhouse economy worth over £339 billion, and now, with an expanded, cross-governmental ministerial position, that partnership is stronger than ever.

"I'm delighted to accept this new appointment and I’m grateful to the Prime Minister for the unwavering support she has given to the Northern Powerhouse.

"We are on the cusp of a new era for the North with our modern industrial Strategy boosting economic growth, supporting advanced manufacturing and creating the right economic conditions to make the Northern Powerhouse one of the most competitive, business-friendly regions not just in the UK but in the world."

Miranda Barker, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber, said her organisation had enjoyed a good relationship with Mr Berry, despite Brexit consuming so much of the government's time and energies.

She added: "What we would like to see is more accountability, clearer aspirations and firm economic targets so it's not just about having a lists of aims."

Cross-party support for the Northern Powerhouse was also essential, she said, "so everyone realises that it is going to be a long-term investment plan".

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "I look forward to working with him on this important agenda, as we work with local leaders across the country on their local industrial strategies, helping to build on the strengths of each area to secure their economic future."