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Politicians given cooperation masterclass by Midland LEPs

Politicians given cooperation masterclass by Midland LEPs

🕔04.Nov 2014

Local Enterprise Partnerships across the West Midlands are giving their political masters an object lesson in how to work together, says chief blogger Paul Dale.

While the region’s councils are still struggling to agree on forming a combined authority, LEPs are teaming up with a minimum of fuss and signing cross-boundary agreements to push forward with infrastructure projects and job creation schemes.

In the latest example of co-operation, the Greater Birmingham and LEP (GBSLEP) has entered agreements with Stoke and Staffordshire LEP (SSLEP) and the Worcestershire LEP (WLEP) confirming a commitment to work together for increased economic growth for the region.

The organisations have shared overlapping geographical areas that fall under more than one LEP with, for example, key transport infrastructure and strategic economic plans.  The agreement demonstrates a commitment to work together to maximise opportunities for businesses, while critically minimising complexity and any duplication of effort.

GBSLEP chair Andy Street said:  “In addition to the obvious geographical overlap, we share a number of common interests and aims with our close neighbours at SSLEP and WLEP.  These include strengthening economic growth and job creation and it is clearly beneficial for us to formalise our working relationships with them on a range of projects and initiatives.

“Today’s signing of the protocol heralds a new era of cooperation on a range of shared priorities which will deliver increased value for us all, while also benefiting the unique regional requirements of each LEP.”

As part of the formalisation of the arrangement, the LEPs will be working closely to identify potential joint projects and opportunities and make recommendations on the approach and management of each initiative. 

Birmingham Council leader Sir Albert Bore recently suggested that the new supervisory arrangements for GBSLEP, comprising an overseeing body of council leaders, were amounting to little more than rubber stamping decisions made by the LEP Board.

Peter Pawsey, executive chairman of the Worcestershire LEP, said: “There has already been continuous and extensive collaboration between Worcestershire and Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEPs on schemes of joint interest. Today’s signing of the protocol now formalises this arrangement going forward to benefit the long term prosperity of the region.

“Successful joint initiatives to date have included major transport infrastructure improvements. For example, the aligning of the Growing Places Funding to support the Hoobrook Link Road in Kidderminster to alleviate traffic congestion and open up significant employment and housing land opportunities on the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park.

“We will now identify further opportunities to work together on projects to maximise business opportunities for Worcestershire and the region, remove barriers for growth, encourage innovation and increase job creation, whilst ensuring effective and efficient investment.”

David Frost, chairman of the SSLEP, said: “When we met with cities minister Greg Clark MP following the submission of our Growth Deal bid, he said our partnership had a clear vision and strategy, with the right focus on infrastructure and skills, and added that we should continue to build constructive relationships with neighbouring LEPs.

“We have worked hard to cement these relationships, culminating in the signing of this protocol, which will lead to increased investment and more jobs across our respective areas.

“We are very clear that our priority is delivering more and better jobs for the people of Stoke  and Staffordshire, and bringing economic growth to the region. This agreement is another part of creating solid foundations for building a brighter future.”

Earlier this year the six West Midlands LEPs announced the formation of a £125 million Regional Investment Fund which they said would help create 9,000 new jobs and help 400 businesses get off the ground.

The Regional Investment Fund will help support businesses in the Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Marches, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire and Worcestershire LEP areas.

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