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Woodcock: 'Significant Progress' Made At Latest GSK Site Meeting

Furness MP John Woodcock says "significant progress" has been made at the latest meeting in Ulverston to find a buyer for the town's GSK site.

The drugs giant is pulling out of the town after ditching plans in the summer for a new £350m biopharmaceutical factory.

Mr Woodcock met privately with senior GSK staff, stakeholders, council representatives, and trade unions at the Coronation Hall on Friday.

He said: "Significant progress has been made by all parties in securing a long term future of pharmaceuticals manufacturing at the Ulverston site.

"GSK are working hard to present options to prospective buyers of one part of their business and public sector organisations are supporting them admirably. 

"A draft prospectus has been developed for interested investors that not only details the value of the business but, crucially, the value of the area as a base to support a major and successful multi-national manufacturer. 

"I have every confidence that investors will be attracted"

The prospectus will be released shortly and the task group will meet again in early 2018.

Meanwhile, last month the taskforce that was set up to help mitigate the effects of GSK's decision to pull the plug on the new facility, said better rail services were needed "urgently" in efforts to attract potential new buyers to take over the site. 

At a previous public meeting, Mr Woodcock slammed what he described as "the dire state" of train services on the Furness line.

Mr Woodcock said: “I know passengers are sick to death of the dreadful reliability of services to and from Lancaster and up the coast and the clapped out uncomfortable carriages and ancient locomotives which break down, belch smoke and give a dreadful impression of the area. 

“So far, the warm words from the Conservative government about local transport improvements before the election have come to nothing but we are not going to put up with a situation where ministers can find huge sums for Northern Ireland but starve the north of desperately needed resources. 

“Re-convening the Cumbria Better Connected campaign next week will be a good opportunity both to quiz Northern Rail about the state of their services and to coordinate a renewed community wide push for the improvements we need from the government.

“When I saw managers from Northern in the House of Commons this week they acknowledged that the Furness line was the biggest source of complaints for the whole network. 

"They need to put us top of the queue for better rolling stock and so do the government who robbed this area when they redirected decent carriages from here to the Chilterns. 

"The situation is now so bad that many passengers are saying they are cancelling trips because they have no confidence in the service and potential inward investors risk being put off when their first impression of the area is a decrepit third world rail line.”

Mr Woodcock first unveiled the Cumbria Better Connected campaign in 2012 with the aim of retaining the direct service between Barrow and Manchester airport.

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