Wednesday, August 11, 2010

News: Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership


Representatives from local authorities and local business leaders are working together to submit proposals to the government in order to establish the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are the government's new model to promote economic development. Their functions, governance, funding arrangements and responsibilities, including possible transfer of functions from Regional Development Agencies, are being developed and consultation is underway.

The government announced that Regional Development Agencies such as Yorkshire Forward will be abolished by March 2012.

The intention is that LEPs will provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities, and better reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve. It is thought that responsibilities will cover planning and housing, transport and infrastructure, employment and enterprise.

LEPs will be able to bid for part of the £1bn Regional Growth Fund, a two year fund announced by the government that will start in April 2011 to be spent on initiatives which encourage private sector enterprise and capacity, particularly in areas currently dependent on the public sector and facing severe effects of its contraction.

Members of the Sheffield City Region Forum recently met and announced their intention to form a Local Enterprise Partnership, which will include representatives from local authorities and local business leaders. At present, all City Region local authorities have indicated that they wish to be involved either as a "core" member or as an "associate" member.

The Sheffield City Region covers the four South Yorkshire authorities (Rotherham, Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley) in addition to Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Bassetlaw, Bolsover and the Derbyshire Dales.

In July the Master Cutler, James Newman, chaired a meeting of over eighty business leaders from the City Region where attendees confirmed that they were happy to participate in a LEP for the City Region.

A LEP Working Group consisting of local business leaders has been established and is currently working alongside local authority Chief Executives to develop a proposal to submit to Government by September 6. Local businesses and local authorities have been invited to submit ideas to support this process.

Cllr Roger Stone, Leader of Rotherham Borough Council and chair of Local Government Yorkshire and the Humber said: "In times like these, when we are facing unprecedented changes in local government, it can be all too easy to focus on short-term targets and tasks, but it's important to keep one eye on the future and the opportunities which the new world may present.

"Rotherham is already talking with other councils across South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire to ensure we capitalise on the benefits this could bring.

"We have a pretty good track record in attracting new businesses into Rotherham and in supporting them once they are up-and-running and I believe this will stand us in good stead as we move into the new decade."

Andrew Denniff, Policy and Communication Manager at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: "Whatever new structures emerge, it is clear that local businesses need to play a central role in defining every area's economic future. So businesses, and Chambers of Commerce, must be at the heart of new Local Enterprise Partnerships.

"Given the long-standing economic challenges that face so many parts of the country, business must be assured that private sector growth, job creation, and balanced local economies are the new LEPs' overriding priorities."

Sheffield City Region website
Rotherham Council website
Rotherham Chamber website


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