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Old Joe’s Almanac: GBSLEP

Old Joe’s Almanac: GBSLEP

🕔27.Dec 2013

A year that started in a flurry of Tarzan-tinged optimism ends without quite the same roar. The prospect of significant decentralisation of government funds to a multi-billion pot of money turned into a thimble where every area has to try its luck. That Birmingham was chosen to lead the initiative with former Deputy Prime Minister Heseltine was a feather in the cap for Andy Street. The John Lewis boss put in quite a performance when he chaired the GBSLEP’s AGM just minutes after disappointing news broke in the Chancellor’s CSR statement.

The full impact of the Greater Birmingham Project has yet to play out, with heads still scratching about how exactly business support should work. GBSLEP produced its Strategy for Growth which represents a good framework for what needs to be done, but remains something of a vacuum when it comes to practical implementation. Its Spatial Plan for Recovery and Growth was also unveiled with the most impenetrable spidergram to be seen in an official document since local government re-organisation in 1974. We’ll hear more about the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan in the New Year.

You will remember LEPs were created with the aim of being business-led, but now they are ‘supervised’ by a board of councillors. The accountability link may have been rightly restored, but the LEP is in danger of being a creature of local government with some publicly spirited businesspeople on board to inject some entrepreneurial thinking. The real prize, though, is some form of joined up Greater Birmingham and Black Country economic force which, after a ‘Glasnost’ dinner in November, may not be quite as far off as many of us have feared.

Spatial strategies ahead
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