New Anglia LEP boss outlines its key role in developing local industrial strategy
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the support they provide for businesses will continue to be relevant in post-Brexit Britain, bosses at the East Anglian partnership have said.
As well as reflecting on a successful year the New Anglia LEP looked to the future at its AGM on Wednesday, including to the formation of local industrial strategies and the future operation of LEPs.
In its 2017/18 annual review, the LEP says it invested more than £22m in large capital and infrastructure projects, gave out more than £3.5m in grants to 110 businesses through its Growing Business Fund and Small Grant Scheme, and helped create 1,269 jobs during the year.
It also saw the release of the Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy, created with public sector partners and informed by feedback from more than 1,000 businesses, education providers and public bodies.
But chief executive Chris Starkie foresees greater growth opportunities in a local industrial strategy – designed to work alongside the government’s nationwide industrial strategy, released last year.
“The local industrial strategy will be an evolution and a means of delivering our local economic strategy,” he told an audience at the International Aviation Academy Norwich.
“One of the things government recognised from previous attempts with industrial strategies is that they work at a national level but don’t drill down to a local level, but that is what the local industrial strategies are designed to do.”
He said the LEP was working with partners on a local industrial strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk, scheduled for completion by autumn 2019, which would “work to our sector strengths”.
The organisation is also helping the region to benefit from other national schemes – it successfully bid for Norfolk and Suffolk to be awarded one of 20 new English careers hubs and is currently working to secure a new Institute of Technology at West Suffolk College.
Mr Starkie added that a LEP review published by the government in July had shown a continuing need for them. “Until this summer I would have said it would be nice for the government to show a little more support for LEPs but the announcement has given us some more hope for the future.”
New Anglia LEP’s list of achievements for 2017/18 is filled with regionally significant projects: helping secure government funding for the Third River Crossing in Great Yarmouth; investment in the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science’s (Cefas) new headquarters in Lowestoft; investing in the Eastern Relief Road in Bury St Edmunds and the Broadland Northway, formerly the NDR, which have both opened in the past year; and watching work begin on the long-empty Winerack in Ipswich, which received a grant from its Growing Places Fund, and its flagship Cornhill project in the town.
The LEP has 44 live capital projects of an estimated value of £50-£100m.