New Anglia and South East LEP chiefs defend partnership’s performances

LOCAL Enterprise Partnership heads in the region have highlighted their achievements so far after a national report claimed that LEPs have made “limited progress” since their launch a year ago.

Policy research unit Centre for Cities said some of the LEPs were yet to have their boards recognised by the Government while only two had produced a long-term strategic plan, and the group also highlighted high levels of bureaucracy such as large boards which it warned could slow decision-making.

Andrew Carter, director of policy and research, said: “While a handful of LEPs are doing really well, many are struggling to come close to meeting the objectives that were set to them by Government this time last year.

“One of our biggest concerns is the spatial geography of some LEPs does not match the economic and political geography.”

But Andy Wood, chairman of New Anglia LEP which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, said yesterday: “We have been open from day one what our objectives are and what we want to achieve. We have a small but focused board, a clear set of priorities and an intent to engage business in the work we do.

“It is early days but to date we are encouraged that our Enterprise Zone bid for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth was successful as was being awarded Green Pathfinder status by Government. We also continue to work in partnership with our county councils to deliver superfast broadband.”

John Spence, chair of the South East LEP, which includes Essex, said: “Given that we were moving from a standing start, it fair to say that it has taken some time to move to full impetus. However, our very powerful board has agreed a clear and ambitious vision. We are now pushing forward workstreams to deliver our priorities with a minimum of bureaucracy.

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“The Government’s designation of two Enterprise Zones in our LEP area is testament to our speed of action and ability to prioritise, despite our size,” he added.