Teesside LEP hits back after report blasts progress

THE Teesside Local Enterprise Partnership has come in for strong criticism in a major new report.

THE Teesside Local Enterprise Partnership has come in for strong criticism in a major new report.

The LEP has angrily hit back after the Centre for Cities, research and policy unit said many of the local enterprise partnerships set up by the Government with the aim of delivering economic growth have made “limited progress” since being launched a year ago.

It said Teesside had still not not published a full strategy or even indicated its priorities.

But Stephen Catchpole, Managing Director at Tees Valley Unlimited said: “This report is fundamentally flawed and wrong. We have actively engaged and consulted with businesses at numerous events and have published both a statement of economic priorities and a robust business plan.

“Our success in achieving an innovative Enterprise Zone spread over several locations and involving numerous benefits will pay dividends for Tees Valley in the months ahead.

“Our early success in winning several Regional Growth Fund bids, which have now been given the green light by the Treasury, is already resulting in work to build new factories in Tees Valley.

“Centre for Cities fails to appreciate the local characteristics of the Tees Valley LEP and the unique solutions it is delivering. Reports contrasting it with other LEPs are misleading as each LEP has its own distinct way of communicating with local stakeholders.”

Nationally, the report had also highlighted high levels of bureaucracy such as large boards or associated focus groups which it warned could slow decision-making.

Andrew Carter, director of policy and research at Centre for Cities, said: “While a handful of LEPs are doing really well, many are struggling to come close to meeting the objectives that were set to them by Government this time last year.

“One of our biggest concerns is the spatial geography of some LEPs does not match the economic and political geography, creating real barriers to effective influence over local economies.

“This means that many of the LEPs seem to be falling at the first hurdle, before boards are recognised or strategies considered.

“Some are too small, some are too big and several have boundaries which do not recognise important economic patterns.”

But a Government spokesman said: “This report is simply not true. Local enterprise partnerships now cover 98% of all businesses in England. They are breathing new life into local economies.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer