Wednesday, 08 September 2010 19:19

Ministers examine LEP proposals

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Ministers want to strengthen local links Ministers want to strengthen local links

THE government is examining 56 bids to form Local Enterprise Partnerships – the replacements for regional development agencies.

Ministers hope the partnerships will “rewrite the economic geography of the country” by reshaping local links between business and government.

They will now consider the proposals in detail, looking at how they might support economic growth across the English regions.

Proposals include partnerships that cut across existing regions and include universities as well as community groups.

The government claims the new partnerships will be constrained by regional boundaries and the “top-down prescription approach taken previously”.

A full list of the 56 proposals can be seen here.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles and business secretary Vince Cable confirmed the number of proposals on Tuesday (7 September).

The proposals included innovative ways of tackling the challenges facing individual local economies, said Mr Pickles.

This reflected the importance of allowing local areas to determine their own economic development and drive private sector job growth.

Tackling the debt crisis and rebalancing the economy were urgent national priorities, Mr Pickles said.

“These 56 local enterprise partnership proposals are just the beginning of a new radical way of delivering prosperity and rebalancing the economy.

“We are facing economic problems that need solutions from local communities.”

The secret to the success of local enterprise partnerships would be working on the basis of local economic geography.

“Gone are the artificial political regions of RDAs – this will better serve the needs of local business,” said Mr Pickles.

The bureaucracy of regional development agencies gave local authorities little reason to engage creatively with economic issues, he added.

“Local enterprise partnerships are a way of tying council and business interests together, and creating the conditions for business to thrive and prosper.”

In future, trade and investment promotion, sector leadership, innovation, business support and access to finance will be led nationally.

The government claims this will leave huge scope for local initiatives to promote local enterprise.

Meanwhile, a consultation on the government’s £1bn regional growth fund has also now closed.

The two-year fund will support projects that offer significant potential for sustainable economic growth and can create new private sector jobs.

In particular, it is targeted at helping areas traditionally reliant on the public sector make the transition to private sector growth and prosperity.

Around 350 responses to the consultation were received.

They included responses from trade associations, business groups, local authorities, universities and environmental bodies.

Local enterprise partnerships would have a key role to play in coordinating funding bids across areas and communities, said Mr Pickles.

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