The Government must not allow the debate over the UK’s membership of the European Union to damage its economy, a Lancashire business leader has warned.

Norman Tenray, president of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, has said there was a risk of the health of the nation’s business community being forgotten amid the growing volume of debate ahead of next month’s referendum.

He urged for the economy to become “priority number one” once a decision was taken and said all efforts needed to be made to ensure the decision of the vote did not harm businesses throughout the country.

Mr Tenray said: “The Chamber of Commerce has recognised the differing view of many within its membership and taken the view to remain neutral, but one point which the Chamber is united on the importance of a healthy economy.

“Businesses in Lancashire are continuing to achieve in the face of great adversity, as they have for many years, and this can only continue if they are given the environment and support within which to do so.,

“It is right the debate is taking place and it is good to hear so much passion behind it, but it cannot be allowed to dominate our focus for much longer – we must unite behind the nation’s decision and continue to build a better Britain.”

Alongside his role as Chamber of Commerce President, Mr Tenray is Chief Executive Officer of OBAS UK, the Longridge-based building supplies business, which is a major sponsor of the Chamber-run Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs.

Last week, he was part of the judging panel which met the applicants for the Excellence in CSR category and previously led the panel for the Small Business of the Year category, which OBAS sponsors.

The applicants which have made the finals of the BIBAs’ 18 prize categories will be informed next Monday, June 6, with the full shortlists being published exclusively in the Lancashire Evening Post on Tuesday, June 7.

All the finalists will then receive a visit from their award category’s judging panel as the judges go ‘on tour’ for a second round of interviews starting on June 20.

The awards will be handed out at a star-studded ceremony held at the iconic Blackpool Tower Ballroom on Friday, September 16.