The Government gave the green light to a new Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in Lincolnshire, which can bid for cash from a £1.4billion growth fund.
Along with 23 other LEPs across the country, the partnerships are established to replace England’s nine regional development agencies.
Led by the Lincolnshire County Council, the bid for Lincolnshire is called Prosperity Through Growth, but it is yet to be developed into a more detailed prospectus.
This will set out the joint priorities of local businesses and the public sector for an infrastructure to support people and businesses in the current economic climate.
Eddy Poll, Economy Portfolio Holder for Lincolnshire County Council said the government understands the importance of Lincolnshire:
“The opportunity to form a Local Enterprise Partnership will enable us to work even closer with businesses and skills providers to grow our economy sustainably.”
A board of 15 volunteers from both the private and public sector will manage the Prosperity Through Growth LEP in Lincolnshire.
In a joint statement, David Dexter, Chairman of the Lincolnshire region of the Federation of Small Businesses, and Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive of the Lincolnshire Chamber said on behalf of the businesses involved:
“Our discussions have shown the potential benefits of working together, for the benefit of all, particularly in a period where there will be little outside money from Government and we will have to shape our own future.”
Concerns voiced over influence and funding
James Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire branch chairman of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said he was delighted that Lincolnshire had been included, but he had concerns:
“After such a disastrous start to the process of deciding the successor bodies to Regional Development Agencies, 24 successful bids is at least a manageable number.
“We are concerned about just how much influence LEPs will have. Without any obvious formal or informal clout in the planning process, it is highly questionable whether LEPs will be effective.
“What we need is for local authorities to be financially incentivised to deliver economic development. This would give them a genuine reason to listen to proposals coming from LEPs.
“LEPs need a small amount of money so that they can identify local and regional developments needs through research.
“With no cash at all they will end up relying on local authorities to provide advice on local infrastructure needs.
“This is likely to divert LEP priorities away from economic development and onto the local authority agenda. This would not be a good outcome.
“Local authorities are not sufficiently focussed on economic development,” Pinchbeck commented.