NWDA prepares for transition

Michael Hunt

The North West Development Agency hosted its eleventh annual general meeting at Manchester University's Whitworth Hall.

Over 500 guests attended the morning meeting at the Grade II-listed venue, which is likely to be NWDA's final AGM.

The meeting provided an opportunity for NWDA leaders to discuss its continued effort to support economic recovery and growth, providing a response to the region's transition to Local Enterprise Partnerships and assessing how this will impact on the £230m of projects and programmes it continues to deliver on behalf of the North West.

The NWDA said the scope and responsibilities of its "regional transition group", set up in September to ensure an orderly and structured transition from the agency and Government Office North West to any North West Local Enterprise Partnerships, are currently being finalised and said the group will report to the chairs and vice chairs of the NWDA and regional leaders group.

The transition group comprises of members of the NWDA, Government Office North West, the Homes & Communities Agency and representatives from the North West's sub-regions.

Following the coalition government's decision to abolish regional development agencies by April 2012 to replace them with LEPs, the NWDA is working closely with partners in the region to manage the transition of its responsibilities.

The NWDA said there is still a range of important detail to be clarified, including precisely which of the agency's current roles and responsibilities will be undertaken in the future at national or local level, and it is expected that this will be clarified in the white paper on sub-national economic growth due to be published later this autumn.

In a statement, the NWDA said: "We are keen to work closely with these key partners to help them understand functions, projects and activities which we currently manage and deliver, and we believe the expertise and experience of our staff will ensure this transition is handled efficiently, and for the maximum benefit of economic areas.

"In the meantime, we will endeavour to keep staff, stakeholders, partners and suppliers up to date with developments in this transitional stage."

Guest speakers at the annual general meeting included Paul Newman, head of communications for Peel Media, Richard Butcher, deputy chief executive for the Stobart Group, Steve Weaver, chief executive at Blackpool Council, and a key note address was provided by Dame Nancy Rothwell, vice chancellor of Manchester University.

Each talked about the legacy of the NWDA and the impact the regional development agency has had on projects involving their respective organisations.

The NWDA meeting discussed schemes such as Media City UK in Salford Quays and the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus and identified them as examples of projects which might not have materialised without support from the agency.

Robert Hough, chairman of the NWDA, provided an overview of the legacy the NWDA will leave for the region and also announced the early retirement of NWDA chief executive, Steven Broomhead.

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