Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership prides itself on being an open and transparent organisation.
As such, WLEP welcomed the Review of Local Enterprise Partnership Governance and Transparency by Mary Ney (published October 2017) and has now implemented the best practice set out by updating our Local Assurance Framework which was adopted in February 2018.
Our LEP Board is business-focussed, with clear strategic priorities identified through our Strategic Economic Plan. The Board is led by a strong private sector Chair supported by a balance of public, private and education sector partners.
However, the organisational structure of the LEP as a whole has continued to evolve to suit the thematic priorities of the organisation. For example, task and finish groups have been established, and dissolved, to deliver discrete time bound aspects of our programme whereas sub groups such as the Employment and Skills Board have been strengthened to reflect the increasing importance of the topic.
The Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships report (published July 2018) from government has provided LEPs with some clear recommendations and WLEP have developed detailed implementation plans to address these recommendations within the timescales set out by government.
This will involve a review of the governance structure of the LEP to ensure it remains fit for purpose and agile enough to deal with the significant but exciting opportunities and challenges on the horizon, in the shape of a refreshed Strategic Economic Plan and the development of a Local Industrial Strategy to support productivity improvements across the county and UK PLC as a whole. The Business Board will play a critical role in providing a forum for businesses to exchange knowledge and provide a challenge to the main Board in the development of this future strategic framework.
A core element of the success of WLEP to date is the effective and trusted relationships that have been developed with partner organisations. WLEP encourages partners to collaborate and challenge each other in order to maintain and deliver the high ambitions we collectively hold for the county.
The effectiveness of the LEP has also been maintained and enhanced through the excellent relationship with our Accountable Body which has been codified in a Memorandum of Understanding.
We have always taken a proactive approach to Governance and Transparency as evidenced by our attendance at the Accountable Body’s Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board in May 2018, which will be an annual exercise to ensure we are held accountable to the local area we serve. We have also been subject to an Internal Audit in 2018, which focused on the application of our Local Assurance Framework, and ensured we were compliant with National best practice.
We also published our Annual Report and held an Annual Conference in November 2018 which was attended by 400 individuals from the public, private, education and third sectors.
However, we are not complacent and fully recognise that our approach needs to be constantly challenged, tested and revised to ensure that we continue to exceed the expectations placed on us in our use of public sector resources.
Joint Statement from Chair, Mark Stansfeld and CEO, Gary Woodman on 12 March 2019