Local Enterprise Partnership wins green light from government

Oct 29, 2010

The partnership brings together businesses, universities and colleges, community groups, social enterprises and local government in Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, Luton and Aylesbury with counterparts in Northamptonshire and parts of Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Their aim is to work closely with government to promote economic growth, new enterprise and employment.
The LEP partners are to host a Business and Enterprise Summit on November 17 at Medway Court on Cranfield Technology Park. The partners want to hear views of business on priorities for the South East Midlands, to identify actions to support businesses and to formulate a programme of work for the coming year.
Milton Keynes & North Bucks Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rita Spada (pictured) – a key player in the LEP so far – said: “The government’s spending review makes it clear that businesses and enterprise will be the driving force behind future economic growth.
“The South East Midlands Business and Enterprise Summit is the opportunity to be involved in the business-led Local Enterprise Partnership and shape decisions that will affect future priorities, such as, regional and European funding, communications and transport infrastructure, inward investment, business support and skills development.”
The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the announcement that South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership has the go-ahead from ministers. It argued strongly that LEPs should not receive the go-ahead unless it was clear that they could demonstrate business backing and involvement.
FSB North Bucks branch chairman Allan Banks said that government’s priority should be to encourage business growth and ensure that small firms are at the heart of the local community. Simply gaining business support would not be enough, he said.
“The FSB has always been an advocate of local businesses working in partnership with local authorities so setting up these business-led partnerships is the logical next step,” Mr Banks added. “We are delighted that the South East Midlands LEP has been given the green light.”
FSB involvement in the partnerships was crucial. “If LEP partnerships are going to be successful then they must genuinely involve local businesses to get things done – not fall into the temptation of merely paying lip service to the small business sector.
“As the voice of small business, the FSB must be involved in all LEPs as they emerge in order to ensure small businesses are at their core, as it is small firms that are at the heart of successful local communities.”
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