The LEP is still keen to pursue the principles of Enterprise Zones across Worcestershire using the powers that already exist and which will be further extended in the Localism Bill which is expected to come into force from April 2012. Indeed in his letter to me regarding South Kidderminster, The Rt. Hon Eric Pickles confirmed that CLG are keen to help local authorities in the use of their powers and options for creating Local Development Orders and in the scope to discount business rates in order to stimulate business growth and in effect to create their own enterprise zones. ‘Further changes such as local retention of business rates and Tax Increment Financing will also be introduced to further incentivise and support local areas to take responsibility for delivering growth’. Given those options, each of our 6 districts could create their own local enterprise zone, perhaps based on the shortlist of sites identified earlier – now there’s a challenge!
Business Development Forum
The work of the forum continues and we are in a round of discussions and site visits with elected members and officers of the southern districts, particularly relating to the imminent consultation period for the Draft South Worcestershire Development Plan. Our interests are naturally economy and employment led but will also address the wider aspects of the plan. Good progress is being made and an ever clearer mutual understanding of the key economy led issues is being achieved. Of particular note is the acceleration of Phase 2 of the Worcester Technology Park alongside M5 motorway. Naturally we have not lost sight of the northern districts and we are expecting to have similar meetings and visits to Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest in the next few weeks, especially following the recent presentation to the Business Board.
Establishment and Secretariat
Paul and Jane are now progressively more involved and Gary Woodman continues to provide valuable support through the Chamber of Commerce. Arrangements with the University will hopefully advance during the next week or so.
We had some very pleasing responses to our first Bulletin and I hope that this edition adds to the information flow. We have yet to finalise the full communications package but upgrading of the web site is now in discussion and a draft brochure is being finalized for comment. We are determined that all PR and press contact will be channeled via Juliet Betterton at BetterPR.
Hereford Business Board
Tony Hyde and I met with the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Herefordshire Business Board as planned and we had a very useful and co-operative discussion about cross border working, particularly in the field of defence and security, in which we also intend to include the new Gloucestershire LEP. We also learned some interesting ‘tricks of the trade’ in the way that the Marches LEP operates.
WLEP Business Board
The Business Board met at Redditch Town Hall on Wed 24th August under Tony Hyde’s chairmanship and we are grateful to Redditch BC for their hospitality. At the meeting we had a full presentation on the ‘Northern District Councils’ Economic Development Services and Priorities’ jointly by Kevin Dicks, CEO of Bromsgrove and Redditch, Mark Moore, Chair of ReWyre, and Ken Harrison who has now taken on the role as Head of Economic Development & Regeneration for the Northern Districts. The Board also approved the endorsement of the WCC funding bid for the replacement of Evesham Bridge, with a plea that ‘fast track’ construction processes be fully explored.
Future Events and Dates
Friday 9 Sept – ERDF Priority 3 funding meeting with CLG, Birmingham
Wednesday 14 Sept – Chair speaks at Changing Landscape in Social Enterprise Conf.
Wednesday 14 Sept – LEP Board Meeting – location tba.
Thursday 15 Sept – LEP Network Meeting, London – Chair and Deputy Chair
Tuesday 20 Sept – Chair presentation to H&W Chamber of Commerce at Redditch
Wednesday 28 Sept – West Midlands LEP Chairs meeting, Birmingham
Wednesday 28 Sept – West Midlands LEP Chairs meeting with Sir Roy McNulty, Chair AWM
Wednesday 28 Sept – WLEP Business Board meeting – tba
Thursday 28 Sept – CLG Local Monitoring Committee, Birmingham