The New Local Enterprise Partnerships: An Initial Assessment - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Written evidence from Milton Keynes Council

  Milton Keynes Council welcomed the recent invitation to local authorities by the Government to submit a LEP proposal by the 6 September. The Council in partnership with neighbouring authorities will be submitting a proposal for a LEP. Milton Keynes Council also welcomes the inquiry and the role of the Select Committee in examining:

    — The functions of the new LEPs and ensuring value for money.

    — The Regional Growth Fund, and funding arrangements under the LEP system.

    — Government proposals for ensuring co-ordination of roles between different LEPs.

    — Arrangements for co-ordinating regional economic strategy, structure and accountability of LEPs.

    — The legislative framework and timetable for converting RDAs to LEPs, the transitional arrangements, and for residual spending and liability of RDAs.

    — Means of procuring funding from outside bodies (including EU funding) under the new arrangements.

  We would like to bring to the attention of the Select Committee a few points that could help strengthen the White Paper and by implication support local delivery of economic development. We would like the Select Committee to consider the main points summarised below that we think are essential to the work of the LEP:


  The requirement to use building blocks of upper tier authorities, the boundaries of which are often based on historical factors that do not relate to today's economy will in many areas be in tension with the alignment of partnerships with the natural economic geography of an area.

  The Milton Keynes South Midlands area, the emerging area around the new city of Milton Keynes, is a classic case. Its city-region economy did not exist even 40 years ago, and yet it is now recognised by local authorities and businesses alike as the economic powerhouse covering the area between London and Birmingham. Economic development has been stifled by administrative boundaries and we hope that you will allow sufficient flexibility for a local solution that better meets our contemporary circumstances.

  Locally we find ourselves working frequently and directly with neighbouring district councils on economic development issues. They have a role as local planning authorities, that means they have a powerful influence in shaping local economies.

  We therefore ask that LEPs comprising a mixture of unitary authorities and district authorities with their business communities be considered.


  We wish to draw attention to the role of LEPs in co-ordinating and driving housing and employment growth in major growth areas. This is particularly important in a post recession period, when these areas must perform well to help pull the country fully from the residual effects of the recession. Particularly acute is the case of areas which have experienced prolonged growth, and where the planning of infrastructure, balanced housing and balanced economies is all based on the assumption of continuing growth. It is essential that such areas be recognised as enterprise areas, with the ability to attract Government support to complete the development of sustainable housing profiles and infrastructure and to give some support for the high levels of inward investment needed.


  While there is a clear need for national level support such as foreign trade delegations, national-level marketing, data collection and analysis, etc. we believe that, to be effective, this must be complemented by inward investment work that is more sub-regionally focussed. Inward investment therefore needs to be a key part of LEP work and may need some Government support at the LEP level, particularly where the growth target is high or the local economic base very low.


  Support for business is critical in reviving a failing economy but this type of support is very different from the support needed in a high growth area, or in an area requiring major rebalancing of its economy. We believe that, whether services are centralised or not, there is a need for the balance of services available in an LEP area to be fine-tuned to the needs of that area in close co-operation with the LEP.


    (a) We are concerned that sub-regional transport infrastructure does not appear on the LEP list at all. There should be an explicit role for LEPs supported by locally determined arrangements for liaison on major cross LEP projects and planning.

    (b) We are concerned that access to European funding is normally at regional level and the change to LEPs will require consideration as to how this might work in future.

    (c) LEPs should have an explicit role in respect of training and skills.

  A letter was also sent to RT Hon Vince Cable MP and RT Hon Eric Pickles MP on 7 July 2010 highlighting the above points.

  We hope that the above is a useful contribution into your inquiry and would greatly appreciate the Select Committee considering these points when examining the LEP topics. We look forward to being party to an application for an LEP in due course.

12 August 2010

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