News bulletin no 4

We have had a fair amount of contact between West Midlands LEP Chairs in recent weeks and this is now taking a key and regular part of my effort together with presentations to various groups and tours of each of the six districts to view and better understand their planning and development proposals.

Meeting of West Midlands LEP Chairs with AWM

Held at Aston Science Park, the six Chairs, mostly with their CEOs, met on 28th September to discuss matters of common interest across the region, including discussion on the opportunities created for the automotive supply chain through the announcement that Jaguar Land Rover are to develop a new engine plant on the i54 development site.  As an action, Richard Hutchins (ex AWM) of Coventry & Warwickshire LEP is heading a sub group of reps from each LEP to pursue opportunities for each of our areas.  At the time of writing we are trying to find an appropriate person from WLEP to represent our interests in bringing supply chain opportunities to Worcestershire.  We also discussed the new DfT funding proposals from Phillip Hammond MP and how we would best want to join forces to create a transport consortium.  That needs careful thought with Worcestershire Highways.  Finally we prepared for the subsequent meeting that same morning with Sir Roy McNulty and colleagues from AWM.  We learned of the programme and progress towards closure of the RDAs and of the asset transfers to HCA.  For Worcestershire the only asset relates to a small area on Bromsgrove Business Park.

Consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

The LEP is using a small part of its start up fund and has engaged a planning consultant to assist us in making our response to this consultation exercise as invited by Greg Clark MP.  That response is currently being crafted for return by the 17th October deadline but will, not surprisingly, encourage the changes which provide more scope and flexibility in securing the release of key employment sites, whilst protecting the overall environment of Worcestershire.

Consultation on the South Worcestershire Development Plan

Since the last bulletin we have entered the formal consultation stage of the Plan.  The LEP must ensure that its voice is heard and that the plan includes provisions that will enable the LEP to help drive forward the growth in the economy and jobs of Worcestershire over the next 10 to 15 years.  In order to respond professionally, independently and clearly, the Business Board has taken responsibility for carefully assessing the Draft Plan and for preparing a considered and well reasoned response.  To assist that process they have

  • Formed a special sub-group of the Business Board including some co-opted members
  • Engaged an independent planning consultant to help them craft their responses
  • Invited presentations on 12thOctober from
    • The 3 local authority planning and economic development teams
    • A consortium of Worcestershire development related professional practices

Out of this process they will prepare a draft response to the Consultation which will be presented to the LEP Board for final ratification, hopefully at the November Board Meeting.

LEP Business Board Meeting

Held on 28th September, the main subjects discussed included the risks to the Worcestershire economy from local, national or global crisis, the LEP interim strategy document, the Business Board action plan, and the formation of sub groups,   In addition Board Members heard presentations from Lorraine Holmes, CEO of Business Link West Midlands, regarding the future for business support services, and from Kathryn Wagstaff of Worcestershire County Council, on the success to date, forward programme and aspirations of the initiative.

Malvern Hills economic development site visits

On Tuesday 4th October the Chair and Business Board Chair visited all key future and existing employment sites in Malvern Hills, including QinetiQ, MHSP, Blackmore Park and the major new sites included in the Draft South Worcestershire Plan.

Future Events and Dates

Wednesday 12th Oct – All Party Parliamentary Group on W Mids Economy in House of Commons

Thursday 13th Oct – Worcestershire LEP Board Meeting, Beoley, Redditch

Friday 14th October – Chair meeting the National FSB representatives, Kidderminster

Friday 14th October – Chair meeting with BIS National representatives, Worcester

Tuesday 18th October – Chair and BB Chair – economic development site visit – Redditch

Wednesday 19th October – Chair and BB Chair – economic development site visit – Bromsgrove

Thursday 20th October – meeting with Mark Garnier MP, Eric Pickles MP and WFDC – Westminster