Thursday, July 23, 2015

News: LEP chair recruitment begins

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Recruitment is underway for a new chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board, somebody who "understands the region and its potential, and will be a great champion for the LEP and our many sectors and companies."

LEPs are the Government's model to promote economic development and provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities, and better reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve.

The new chair will replace James Newman, the former Master Cutler and current chairman of Finance Yorkshire, who helped to bring the bid for the partnership together with businesses and local authority representatives across the city region and was named as chair in 2010. Newman accepted a request from the LEP board to remain as the chairman for another year, until September 2015.

Speaking at the LEP's business conference in January, Newman (pictured) said:: "2015 is a year of opportunity for the Sheffield City Region. My legacy is for the private sector to be engrained in every aspect of economic development."

A collaboration between businesses and the local authorities that are placed at the heart of growth in the regions, the Government charged LEPs with putting together local growth plans that will be the basis on which the Government negotiates deals with each LEP for new levers, resources, funding and flexibility over them.

The city region's growth plan has the ambitious aim to create 70,000 new private sector jobs and 6,000 new businesses. Acknowledged as one of the country's leading LEPs, SCR secured a £320m million Growth Deal from Government and in December 2014, achieved a Devolution Deal to give the city region even more influence and control over its affairs on skills, infrastructure and business support.

In 2013, the nine local authorities that comprise the SCR agreed to create a new legal body, the Combined Authority, that would have responsibility for transport, economic development and regeneration. The LEP and the SCR Combined Authority have assumed a joint role in developing and delivering the economic strategy for the SCR and a joint SCR Executive Team has been created, with Ben Still as executive director.

Refinement of the governance structure has led to the creation of executive boards that will cover: skills, business growth, infrastructure, transport and housing. They are tasked with making key decisions on strategy and budget allocation. The boards are made up of key players in the public and private sector and have delegated authority from the combined authority and LEP.

Advising consultants at GatenbySanderson are helping with recruitment for the job and a final recruitment panel is set to meet on September 14. Currently unpaid, the issue of remuneration was discussed at a recent LEP board meeting with the advert stating that the salary is an "attractive package."

In addition to cementing Sheffield city region's place in the Northern Powerhouse idea, one key issue for the new chair, and LEP as a whole, is the offer from Government regarding further devolution. Discussions are underway and city regions that want to agree a devolution deal in return for a mayor by the Spending Review will need to submit formal, fiscally-neutral proposals and an agreed geography to the Treasury by September 4.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP

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