Friday, 29 October 2010 09:22

LEPs: Rural winners and losers

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Ministers hope to boost local economies Ministers hope to boost local economies

THE government has unveiled the first 24 local enterprise partnerships it hopes will drive economic growth across England.

Local councils and business leaders will take charge of the local economy following the abolition of eight regional development agencies.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles and business secretary Vince Cable announced the 24 partnerships on Thursday (28 October).

They include partnerships that encompass rural Cornwall, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, the Marches, the Tees Valley and the West of England.

But three partnership bids for Lancashire all failed.

The government said it was determined to rebalance the economy and promote sustainable economic growth fairly across the country.

Local enterprise partnerships would mean that the people who knew their area best would be calling the shots.

New proposals were also unveiled for councils to keep business rates collected locally, giving councils a renewed incentive to attract business to the area.

In a third measure, ministers declared a £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund open for business.

The fund is targeted at communities currently dependent on the public sector, helping them make the transition to private sector growth.

Mr Pickles said: “Over the last decade, the country's economy became skewed by artificial boundaries and top-down prescription that did not work.

“We want to create a fairer and more balanced economy driven by private sector strength.”

The government claims the partnerships are proof that central government does not to micromanage.

But not all partnership bids won government approval.

Lancashire, for example, failed to get the go-ahead for three partnership bids.

County Council leader Geoff Driver said: "Naturally we are disappointed that LEP status hasn't been approved.

“It's important that we now focus on making sure Lancashire doesn't lose out as a result.”

Councillor Driver said he had already started contacting other local authority leaders to ensure Lancashire played its full part in improving regional economy.

"It is vital the public and private sectors keep forging links that will enable us to realise this potential and drive growth across the whole of Lancashire."

Under the current system over £20bn of business rates collected by councils are pooled by central government and redistributed across all local authorities.

Ministers believe the result is that councils have a vital role supporting the local economy but the cash return for doing so is limited.

They hope localising business rates will better encourage local economic growth.

The first 24 local enterprise partnerships are:

  • Birmingham and Solihull with East Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth
  • Cheshire and Warrington
  • Coast to Capital
  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Cumbria
  • Great Cambridge and Great Peterborough
  • Greater Manchester
  • Hertfordshire
  • Kent, Greater Essex and East Sussex
  • Leeds City Region
  • Leicester and Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Liverpool City Region
  • Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire
  • Oxfordshire City Region
  • Sheffield City Region
  • Solent
  • South East Midlands
  • Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
  • Tees Valley
  • Thames Valley Berkshire
  • The Marches
  • West of England
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