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
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
1. THE COMPOSITION
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.
2. AREAS OF
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
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
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