At its Board meeting, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has reluctantly agreed to change its geography to comply with Government guidelines for local enterprise partnerships which come into force this year.
From 1 April 2020 onwards, the LEP will formally cover the districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, but with strong partnership arrangements in place to ensure that its work and investments continue to have maximum benefit for the wider region’s economy.
Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP, said: “Our strong preference is to continue with our existing LEP arrangements covering the whole of the Leeds City Region economic geography. These arrangements are founded on over 15 years of strong partnership working between the public and private sectors in our region and through these partnerships we have achieved great things in a very difficult economic climate.
“This includes securing the country’s largest Growth Deal in 2014, when our region was still recovering from recession, which is delivering over £1 billion of investment across the region in new housing, college facilities, transport improvements, flood protection schemes and support for business growth.
“The new requirements for LEPs introduced by Government are clear, however, that overlapping geographies are no longer permitted, so it is with great reluctance that the Board has agreed that to comply fully with these requirements we will amend our formal governance to cover the districts of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield only from 1 April 2020.
“We are determined to maintain extremely strong partnership arrangements with our regional partners – particularly in York, Harrogate, Craven, Selby and Barnsley – to ensure that the region’s economic priorities continue to be delivered and future investment is aligned to create the greatest possible benefits for all.
“We will continue to make the case to Government about why collaboration at the functional economic level is so vital in our City Region with the aim of ensuring our work can continue to benefit the whole of our City Region geography.
“Our economy isn’t constrained by administrative boundaries and neither should our ability to collaborate and co-invest across those boundaries for the good of our City Region economy, our people and communities, and the North as a whole.”
The Government’s Strengthening Local Enterprise Partnerships review was published in 2018, setting out a range of new national guidelines for LEPs including removing overlaps between neighbouring LEP geographies.
The current Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership geography overlaps with the Sheffield City Region LEP through Barnsley, and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP through York, Craven, Harrogate and Selby.
The LEP will continue to be known as the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Investment secured by the LEP under its existing governance arrangements will continue to be available across the whole City Region geography (the local authority districts of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York). Further information will be made available on the LEP website www.the-lep.com.
Proposals for maintaining existing strong partnership arrangements within a new formal governance structure will be considered by the LEP Board at its February meeting.