Monday, January 11, 2016

News: New LEP chair starts new role

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Sir Nigel Knowles, global co-chairman of DLA Piper, is the new Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chair.

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


The board is private sector led and the position has been held by James Newman, 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.

Sir Nigel, said: "Sheffield city region (SCR) has positioned itself at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse over the last few years, winning deal after deal with government and working in partnership to deliver growth and jobs in the local economy.

"When the opportunity to play a leading part in the future of Sheffield City Region came about, I realised that this was a chance to make a difference to an area that has played a huge part in my life and to the development of DLA Piper.

"I believe that the LEP has a clear vision, a strategy for achieving it and team of people truly committed to achieving its goals. I hope that my skills and experience, in transforming a Yorkshire law firm into a global business, can be used to drive forward these goals and economic ambitions.

"As Chair of Sheffield City Region LEP I look forward to furthering relations with colleagues at Whitehall, and at LEPs in Leeds, Manchester and across the North to build a better connected and prosperous Northern Powerhouse."

A law graduate of the University of Sheffield and a proud native of Stocksbridge, Sir Nigel Knowles is recognised as the driving force behind DLA Piper's remarkable growth, taking the firm from its UK regional origins to the global business it is today.

Outgoing chair, James Newman is set to continue at Finance Yorkshire and is an independent non-executive chairman at Fishing Republic, the Rotherham-based retailer that is set to grow having launched on the stock exchange.

Looking back over the last five years, Newman said: "I was delighted to be invited at the very beginning to help bring the local business community to join with the Local Authorities and form the LEP. As a Yorkshireman and a businessman, I felt I had something to contribute to the drive to create growth, investment and employment. The UK was in the middle of a recession, we had a new Coalition Government, and a different kind of local leadership was required. The private sector had to lead the way and I believe we have fulfilled the role, which the Government at the time identified as needed to stimulate the economy at local level.

"[The Sheffield city region] has made a great amount of progress, particularly in the way the private sector engages and how both sides see the economy as a driver of wealth creation and jobs. Traditionally the two cultures worked somewhat differently and it has not always been easy for the two to come together. But both have adapted, utilising each other’s strengths – the public sector in providing the ‘heavy lifting’ resources and accountability, whilst the private sector provided the commercial drive and identified the opportunities to grow. A good combination, which all involved should be proud of.

"The legacy I hope to leave behind will be a strong private and public sector partnership and direct private sector involvement in economic decision making. The SCR LEP has a strong reputation for delivery and good governance nationally. It's seen by investors as well as Government as a more joined-up and better performing place to deliver the growth and jobs we all want to see happen."

The LEP and combined authority have recently begun the recruitment of a new executive director to replace Ben Still in the £125k a year role.

Sheffield City Region website

Images: SCR LEP

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