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Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Milton Keynes Economic Partnership (MKEP) (NT 32(a))

  The Partnership (MKEP) welcomes the opportunity to submit a supplementary memorandum to the Committee following the publication of the outcome of Phase 1 of the review of English Partnerships.

  We have noted with interest that the Report proposes that the successor body to English Partnerships should retain responsibility for "strategic sites". While the Report sets out some ideas on how "strategic" might be defined, we believe that these are too vague for sensible application to Milton Keynes.

  As pointed out in our original memorandum, Milton Keynes is a key driver of the economic development of this part of the UK; indeed, when the current Regional Planning Guidance Study on the future of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Area is published later this year, Milton Keynes' importance to the future economic health of the wider UK plc may increase. We are confident that the forthcoming revised Regional Economic Strategies of both SEEDA and EEDA will support this view.

  It is therefore essential that the momentum of development in Milton Keynes is continued, and that this should be managed in a manner which retains the confidence of the investment community.

  We consider that, notwithstanding any national-level debates or decisions which might be made over the current EP-owned sites (ie "strategic" vs "disposable"), decisions on EP's Milton Keynes assets and projects must be considered in a locally coherent way.

  We therefore recommend that the review of EP's sites and projects in Milton Keynes should be carried out locally by the Economic Partnership, since we bring together all the relevant stakeholders. We accept that some sites (or projects) could be regarded as peripheral to the long-term development of Milton Keynes, and could therefore be disposed of, or transferred, to a third party without detriment. This locally-based review would determine which sites or projects should be disposed of or transferred in the immediate future.

  Where sites and projects are determined as being "strategic" in nature, and thus remain the responsibility of EP, we further recommend that that responsibility should be exercised in collaboration with other key stakeholders such as MK Council, SEEDA and MKEP. An appropriate management structure would need to be developed in due course.

  Since there will probably be a lapse of time before any new arrangements come into force we suggest that, in order to maintain the momentum of development, the present interim Steering Group arrangements set up between English Partnerships and the Council be continued, and evolve into whatever longer term structure is ultimately agreed.

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