The Local Enterprise Partnership is DEAD. Long live the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Colchester Borough Council Cabinet will have an interesting decision to make when it next meets [pdf] at the Town Hall on 8 July.
Will it support the decision to dissolve the South East Local Enterprise Partnership?
And perhaps more crucially, will it support the proposal put forward by the Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and the Chairman of Haven Gateway Partnership that a new LEP should be formed?
Dontcha just LOVE Localism?
Local Enterprise Partnerships date back to the 2010 Coalition government. The ConDems wanted local partnerships to be formed to help bid for any local grants.
But just how local is local?
As we are finding out with the whole devolution argument, it’s all about boundaries and political control.
The South East LEP was VAST. It covered Kent, Medway, East Sussex and Greater Essex.
The needs of local people living in Margate are probably different to those around Mile End.
The report that the Cabinet with no Mandate will consider on Wednesday evening even goes as far as to admit:
“It is probably fair to say that most commentators believe the SE LEP has struggled with Governance arrangements.”
That’s quite an admission from an apolitical Officer’s report.
And so the decision for the Cabinet with no Mandate to make is twofold: agree to dissolve the beast of the SE LEP, and then decide if it wants to jump in with the alternative that has been proposed.
A new LEP formed around the boundaries of the County Council and the two Unitaries of Southend and Thurrock is on the agenda.
It’s like the Europe argument being played out on a Localism scale.
The CBC report adds:
“The worst possible scenario is that the current changes would result in an arrangement which excluded Colchester from a LEP as the ability to attract both Government and EU funding would be dramatically reduced.”
Make no mistake – this is all about money:
“A substantial part of the Borough’s regeneration proposals and economic development initiatives is reliant on access to Government and EU funding via the LEP.”
We have every sympathy here for the Cabinet with no Mandate. The government tells them to form strategic alliances in the form of an LEP. But when these fail to deliver, you are left in isolation unless you find an alternative.
What on earth did local authorities do before the dreaded Localism was placed on the agenda?