The three local authorities covering Cheshire and Warrington have confirmed they will be bidding for local enterprise partnership status.
The Coalition Government announced its intention of creating Local Enterprise Partnerships, LEPs for short, and wrote a letter to local authority and business leaders proposing the idea and all three authorities covering Warrington and Cheshire have not hesitated to take up the challenge.
A co-ordinated response will also include the Cheshire & Warrington Enterprise Commission, the economic development partnership for Cheshire and Warrington which is funded by the local authorities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester and Warrington.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Eric Pickles Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, outlined their aspirations for these partnerships in the letter.
The letter said: "We are keen to encourage local businesses and councils to work together to develop their proposals for local enterprise partnerships. The Coalition Government is determined to re-balance the economy towards the private sector. We regard local enterprise partnerships as central to this vision."
Robert Davis, chairman of the Cheshire & Warrington Enterprise Commission and group chief executive officer of nuclear specialist EA Technology in Capenhurst, is an enthusiastic supporter of the new proposals.
Davis said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for us as businesses – we can help to shape the proposed LEP and make sure that it meets our needs and enables us to grow our businesses.
"With inevitable reductions in public sector expenditure we need to look increasingly to the private sector to help us drive the economy forward. It is vital that our businesses are successful and continue to support our residents and the economy.
"We should grasp this opportunity with both hands. In the longer term this will enable us to deliver our ambitious growth targets and really put Cheshire and Warrington on the map."
The Cheshire & Warrington Enterprise Commission said that the "function" of the LEP could be to:
- Identify and address local economic priorities
- Create the environment for business growth including planning, housing, transport and infrastructure priorities and ensure that they are aligned
- Encourage and support enterprise and business start-ups
Davis added: "Businesses will have the opportunity to be really involved in developing our economy. These partnerships will be truly collaborative and will bring the public and private sectors together. If you are running a business in the sub region and have ideas about what the LEPs should focus on, then we want to hear from you."
The Cheshire & Warrington Enterprise Commission added that the forthcoming white paper on sub-national economic growth, which is expected later in the summer, will set out the Government's approach to LEPs in more detail.
Outline proposals for new Local Enterprise Partnerships are to be submitted to Government by 6 September this year.