A summary of ACE’s evidence.
The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) should have a strong focus on business and job creation, improving the economic, social and environmental prospects for their local areas.
LEPs should also support the achievement of strategic national objectives, and should demonstrate that their work supports national needs, including encouraging growth outside of London and south east England.
LEPs should be encouraged to engage with other localities in order to learn from other areas’ experiences and absorb best practice.
A National LEP Forum is one potential mechanism for fostering coordination between LEPs. Such a body would have a highly focused remit and be made up of high level representatives of all LEPs, but should not unduly impede the ability of LEPs to act in the best interests of their local areas.
The new LEPs are likely to experience the same problem that affects the existing Regional Development Agencies, namely that businesses would regard their boundaries as arbitrary political divisions. “Porous” boundaries could be established, with some local areas participating in multiple LEPs should they choose to do so.
The structure of the new LEPs could be modelled to a degree on the existing Local Economic Partnerships, with amendments to reflect modern needs and challenges.
Lay members of the public should be considered for election to the boards of LEPs, although business representatives should take at least half of all seats.
Public accountability could be strengthened by involving communities in the steering of LEP work streams, local referendums on the performance of LEPs, regular public engagement, and locating LEP secretariats within local authorities.