LEP bids approved

Four of the eight Local Enterprise Partnership bids covering the North West have been approved by the Government.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced 24 of the 56 bidding groups in England were approved.

Ministers announced the first wave of successful partnerships on Thursday as part of a new plan for local economic growth, which sets out the Government's role in empowering locally driven growth, encouraging business investment and promoting economic development.

Ministers also declared the £1.4bn regional growth fund open for business.

The fund will support the creation of private sector jobs and will particularly support communities currently dependent on the public sector, helping them make the transition to private sector led growth and prosperity.

The four successful bids in the North West are as follows:

  • Cheshire and Warrington
  • Cumbria
  • Greater Manchester
  • Liverpool City Region

The three separate bids covering Lancashire, Fylde Coast, and Pennine Lancashire have not made the list, as well as Peel Group's Atlantic Gateway proposal.

The Government was keen not to have too many LEPs and declined Lancashire's bids on the basis three in one county was too much.

Cllr Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, 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.

"I've already started contacting my local authority leader colleagues throughout the county to get together quickly to ensure Lancashire plays its full part in improving the economic prosperity of the North West.

Cllr Peter Gibson, Leader of Wyre Borough Council, hinted a bid covering a wider area could still come forward. He said: "Now it is clear that the Fylde Coast bid does not meet with Government approval we will wait to hear their suggestions on how we move things forward.

"Personally, I think an LEP should be based on a travel-to-work area with a shared economic geography. This is what the Government seemed to be asking for and this is what the Fylde Coast LEP bid represented.

"Having said that, whatever structure is decided on, Wyre will work closely with its partners to bring the most benefit for its residents and the Fylde Coast as a whole."

In May this year, the coalition government announced that the eight regional development agencies established by the Labour party in 1999 would be abolished and replaced by joint local authority and business partnerships.

The LEP for Liverpool City Region covers Halton, Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens and Wirral.

Lorraine Rogers, chief executive of investment agency The Mersey Partnership, said: "We are delighted the Government has endorsed our proposal. The success of our LEP bid shows the effectiveness of the close, collaborative working already going on across Liverpool City Region.

"The private sector has a major part to play in the delivery process and the priority must be on the need to rebalance our economy to counter the impact of public sector cuts."

Speaking about Greater Manchester's successful bid, Peter Blackmore, partner and head of the Manchester office of national law firm McGrigors, added: "While everyone committed to the economic welfare of Greater Manchester will welcome the successful submission of the bid the LEP must be granted the necessary powers to successfully compete with the private sector for funding from the Government's Regional Growth Fund – otherwise this great city may be hamstrung with a body with plenty to say but little to do."

Your Comments

Dear Lancashire, Go outside and have a word with yourself. Come back in when you’re all speaking to each other. Thanks, Eric

By Eric

UPDATE: adds quotes from Lancashire politicians

By Ed

Sub regional infighting is not very attractive to central government.Blackpool and Burnley and Blackburn are towns that need to wake up to the fact Preston is their local City they should be supporting. Other sub regions realize this tactic and have secured their funding. BBB will be prosperous when Preston is back on the up. Eric… I agree.

By Brian Holden

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