Economy, The Regions

– Robustness of Proposed LEPs Questioned

Earlier this week the government confirmed that it had received 56 requests from councils and businesses across England to establish Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

However, on the same day a Commons select committee inquiry raised concerns over the capability of the bodies which will succeed the nine regional development agencies in 2010.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP said that the proposals to establish LEPs are “just the beginning of a new radical way of delivering prosperity and rebalancing the economy”. Commenting upon this issue, Rt Hon Vince Cable MP the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said “The key is that these partnerships are built from the bottom up and will have the flexibility to determine their own agenda rather than have it handed down to them by Whitehall”.

Conversely, Paul Newark, Head of Organisation at the Trades Union Congress, informed the business, innovation and skills select committee that creating 50-60 new LEPs would result in each one lacking ‘critical mass’, consequently, they would be “too small to carry the clout and weight they need to support economic growth in their areas”. He told MPs of his concern over the amount of resources available to the proposed LEPs and suggested that the establishment of 12-15 would more reasonable.

Cities and counties that have put bids forward include Liverpool, Leeds, Leicestershire, Worcestershire, Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough.

A full list of LEP bidders can be viewed at: x-apple-ql-id://B0DAC285-49C2-4162-B8E9-8ECCB36428AA/x-apple-ql-magic/7FCD2141-A454-47B8-ACC8-961951FE5C4C.pdf

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