Liverpool waterfront

TMP fights back over ‘absolute joke’ LEP attack

Robert Hough, chairman designate of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, has hit back at claims from Downtown in Business chairman Frank McKenna that the LEP will employ far too many staff.

Frank McKennaMcKenna said he was amazed that the LEP proposes 52 staff supported by further council officers. A vote of TMP members to dissolve the current structure and replace it with the LEP is due to take place on Friday. If approved, Hough, a non-executive director of Peel Group and chairman of the North West Development Agency, will take the seat of TMP chairman Rod Holmes, former project director for Liverpool One at Grosvenor, and TMP staff will transfer across to the new organisation.

McKenna added: "I am astonished that this staff-heavy organisation is being seriously suggested at a time when both the public and private sectors are facing major challenges in a time of austerity.

"The LEP is simply meant to be a commissioning body; an enabler, a facilitator. Clearly, some city region politicians are using this government-imposed entity to continue the wrong-headed approach of too many agencies delivering duplication and breeding confusion."

Robert HoughIn response a spokesman for TMP said: "Robert Hough and his board are determined that the LEP will be more than a talking shop. It will give strategic leadership and facilitate and enable existing organisations and bespoke teams to deliver the desperately needed acceleration of economic growth. It is aware that the city region has far too few businesses, not enough business activity and not enough jobs. To deliver what is needed to meet these challenges and the high expectations of our communities and businesses, the LEP is taking over the resources of the Mersey Partnership including its membership, income and staff; and the private sector-led teams that are already delivering rapid growth in the key sectors and are on the way to creating 100,000 new jobs within the decade."

TMP serves several functions including operating the official tourist board for the city region, hotel and conference booking services, supporting growth in priority sectors such as low carbon, superport, creative industries and life sciences. TMP also produces economic research such as the annual economic review, the most recent of which was launched at an event last week.

McKenna went on: "There was an opportunity for us to clear a tier of the bureaucracy that has existed in Greater Liverpool for far too long, re-brand Liverpool Vision, extend its remit and make some much needed efficiency savings, whilst adopting a more business friendly structure in the process.

"Instead the old problems of Merseyside parochialism and the appetite to empire build have won the day over common sense."

McKenna said the Leeds LEP employs six people and Cheshire & Warrington just two staff.

He added: "TMP did at least have a small element of private sector funding through a membership scheme. But it would be inappropriate to expect local business to finance a government agency. Equally, if you are a Liverpool business, why would you want to invest in the LEP, when the city is engaging the private sector through its 'Liverpool Plan?'

"I hope our LEP board revisits this plan, and comes up with a more sensible way forward that can win the broad support of the business community. LEPs are supposed to be private sector-led after all."

Downtown Liverpool in Business was established in 2004 to provide leadership to the private sector by articulating the views of its members to the public sector agencies that govern the city.

Your Comments

Frank has raised a fair point, but I have no issue with them employing 52 staff if they consistently deliver inward investment to the region. The quality of the top brass drastically needs improving and this will come at a cost. I propose that the LEP is a loss leader subsidised by the local councils to the benefit of the region. The existing board needs removing and top executives from outside the region should be employed; surely there is also a role for Lord Heseltine?

By concerned

It is really difficult to see how this can be considered as a private sector LEP. Apart form a name change and a new person at the top this is the same agency as before – isn’t it?

By Martyn Collins

I’ve never forgiven TMP for awarding a contract for their annual report to a Manchester based agency. Whilst I am all for the North West the development agency for Merseyside awarding contracts to a creative agency outside their region says it all about their bureaucratic ways.

By Nick

The LEP board includes extremely senior executives from BT, Stobart Ports, Peel Holdings, Liverpool University, NGF/Pilkington, Jaguar Land Rover, The Contact Centre and of course, the widely respected Rod Holmes from TMP. Those businesspeople don’t just pontificate about economic growth but actually invest billions to make it happen. The absorption by the LEP of The Mersey Partnership is the right move but has taken longer than it should (complex deals often do). The LEP will now have revenue from private business subscriptions and sponsorship. As Frank knows, it’s never easy to lose NWDA’s patronage but even when their contribution is discounted, the business has the financial wherewithal to keep going without subsidy. It is disingenuous to pretend that the local authorities would ever cede control of their own economic development to an expanded Liverpool Vision. It wouldn’t even make financial sense, since Vision really is wholly publicly-funded by Liverpool City Council, unlike TMP.

By Jack Stopforth

As an outsider looking in, how parochial can folk be? The LEP is about The Liverpool City Region not the city of alone and should be bigger than the sum of it’s parts. It needs an organisation to put it on the global stage, and bring in the desperately needed jobs and growth for everyone. These jobs will come from thinking big by exploiting the opportunities in Low Carbon; Super Port; Visitor and Knowledge. The action plans have been created it is time for delivery. Move on people.

By big picture

The Liverpool LEP have struggled since 2010 to come to terms with what they should be doing and how they should be doing it, plainly after nearly two years the answer to that challenge still eludes them. It seems to me that the deckchairs on the Titanic are still being shuffled, by whom , for how long and to what purpose this charade will continue, mere mortals can only guess. What does appear to be clear is that a self appointed cadre are in the driving seat, leading the charge and setting themselves up as guardians of some grand economic salvation plan. A plan that they claim to be capable of ‘strategically delivering’ . Despite their grand rhetoric as to facilitation and enablement, the LEP /TMP?/ Liverpool Vision ?/ ? whoever the local power brokers really are, effect a command and control style, yet central government calls for inclusive collaboration and engagement with entrepreneurs and micro enterprises – who incidentally have no effective representation whatsoever on the LEP board. I am at a loss to understand why Whitehall has failed to hold them to account by now and get rid of the lot of them and their disgraceful mismanagement. On Merseyside we’ve still got a public sector mindset with different values to the private sector, they’re trying to set up initiatives that the private sector don’t want – delivered top down – the attitude is " This is today’s ‘plat du jour’ – you’ll like it." ( does the private sector have confidence in the public sector? – open question) The LEP board (I’d guess ) will still be large firm dominated who’ll be holding court calling for ‘infrastructure’ investments to serve their own needs – and on their terms – and local government councillors. period. Approx 75% of the regions businesses will be excluded as ( anecdotally) will 25%+ of businesses by sales volume – they simply won’t get a look in, where’s the voice of the little man here? There’s some interesting authority on this from Kauffman and others..from both USA and UK which might stimulate debate (1)Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed–and What to Do About It" (The Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship)(2009) (2) "There are well-documented problems that can derail government programs to boost new venture activity. First, they can simply get it wrong: allocating funds and support in an inept or, even worse, a counterproductive manner. Decisions that seem plausible within the halls of a legislative body or a government bureaucracy can be wildly at odds with what entrepreneurs and their backers really need" JOSHUA LERNER Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 214 Harvard Business School Boston, Massachusetts 02163 US. (3) KAYNE J. Promoting and Supporting an Entrepreneurship-based Economy in Maine. (Augusta, ME: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Entrepreneurial Working Group/Maine Small Business Commission) (2002) (4)"The economy will be turned round only by private enterprise being left alone to get on with finding markets and exploiting them for profit. Markets are meeting places of buyers and sellers and work best without State interference" HEFFER.S.The Daily Mail 3/3/12 p.4

By George Harris

Do we really need or trust the ex head of Manchester’s PR and ex Mcr High Sheriff to push for Lpool..this must be a crazy joke or its ‘suicide’. I am not a ‘frank’ fan but he is right.

By george

Frank is right. Its clearly jobs for the boys…if you wanna be in my gang…

By birt

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