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Business will have its say as councils prepare to take on SEMLEP’s work

FINAL preparations are being made for the transfer of the functions of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership into the hands of the sub-region’s local authorities.

Businesses can expect a seamless transition when SEMLEP’s work is transferred to host authority West Northamptonshire Council on April 1.

The move follows the government’s decision last year to end core funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships from March 31, to allow for continuing services to be run through local authorities.

This includes:

  • Strategic regional economic planning;
  • The Growth Hub, a government-backed business support service which provides free one-to-one advice, guidance and resources to assist businesses located in the South East Midlands to realise growth ambitions and overcome constraints;
  • The Careers Hub, which connects local employers to individual schools, colleges and training providers to coordinate careers education to the needs of the region’s economy and enhance each student’s early experiences of the workplace.

From next month, these come under the auspices of the six local authorities in the South East Midlands: Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, Milton Keynes City, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Councils.

A Central Area Growth Board made up of the leaders of each authority will provide the initial governance structure until a joint committee is set up. The board will be supported by a Business Board of representatives from the business community across the area.

The Business board will play a critical role in ensuring businesses across the South East Midlands have a hand in shaping the economy, and a voice on issues that affect them.

Central Area Growth Board co-chair Cllr Jonathan Nunn pictured left, leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring the businesses and individuals who have been so brilliantly supported by SEMLEP will experience a smooth transition. In the coming months and years, we will also dedicate our efforts across the South East Midlands to building on the great work that has been done by everyone so far.”

West Northamptonshire Council will also take over the agreed budget for management of the former LEP functions and staff transferring, he added.

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