Young people will have the chance to influence Cumbria's future thanks to a new initiative launched by the county's local enterprise partnership.

The organisation, responsible for supporting business to deliver economic growth, will create a shadow board.

Aimed at people aged 18 to 35, members will be able to inform and advise the main board on its strategy and investment decisions.

Jo Lappin, Cumbria LEP chief executive, said: “We recognise that young people are one of our most valuable assets and it’s therefore really important that they have a stake in the future of our economy and are involved in influencing our activities going forward.

"The shadow board is an excellent opportunity to make sure that this happens."

Shadow board members must live or work in the county and have an interest in all aspects of the economic growth agenda.

Representation and the type and size of businesses will be considered to ensure that the shadow board fully reflects the make-up of Cumbria’s economy, with individuals invited from the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Cumbria LEP said it was committed to making sure it fully represents the community it serves, and has appoimted Andrew Wren as its board diversity champion.

He said: “In considering the equality, diversity and inclusivity of the board, we are genuinely committed to representing the communities that we serve.

"We have made excellent progress on gender representation and we now want to make equally strong progress on broader diversity issues and encouraging representation from under-represented groups.

“In Cumbria, we recognise that one of these groups is our young people as we have the slowest growing population of any LEP area in the country.

"It is therefore really important that we hear from our young people and that they have a strong voice in shaping our economic future as we need all of your young people to want to live, work and build their career here.”

The nominations process and working arrangements will be considered by the board at its next meeting on September 27.

Caleb Deeks, director, policy, delivery and private office with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Cumbria LEP’s sponsor director, welcomed the initiative.

He said: “The department is committed to improving the diversity of all LEP boards, as outlined in the Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships report, and one of the key under-represented groups in Cumbria is young people, given the declining working age population, so this move is to be applauded.”