Give LEPs Real Powers

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17 Feb 2011

Last month's news that economic growth ground to a halt in the final quarter of 2010 has highlighted the importance of ensuring the Government has a clear plan for securing the economic recovery and creating sustainable jobs, filling the gap caused by cuts in the public sector.

Unfortunately this Government has so far completely failed to deliver a plan; in fact business leaders have already expressed concern at the lack of leadership and action.

One of the first decisions taken by the Government was the scrapping of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), including Yorkshire Forward. This was despite the fact that evidence showed they were delivering for the areas they served. In their place, the Government is creating Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), which are meant to promote growth and a private sector led recovery. The Sheffield City Region LEP is to cover our area.

However under the Government’s plans there is a real concern that these organisations will simply not have the teeth required to drive forward the level of growth we need. Not only are there large gaps across the country, serious questions have also arisen around the lack of resources and powers – with warnings that business will walk away. The LEPs have to be given adequate resources to cover their start up costs and the powers to oversee the local skills strategy to address local needs.

LEPs should also have first call on the future of the land and property assets of the RDAs, which according to the Government are currently worth in excess of half a billion pounds.

Giving LEPs a first say in the future of our local assets, like the former Dinnington Colliery site, would be an important step in ensuring the value is retained here in the Rother Valley and would allay fears of a Government fire sale.

Trusting the local knowledge and expertise of LEPs, rather than holding them back, will go a long way to giving local areas the freedom they need to secure economic growth.