News bulletin no 5

I write this bulletin in somewhat of a haste as I prepare to fly overseas for 3 weeks.  In my absence my deputy Chair, Tony Hyde, will be holding the fort.  I will be back in the office on 14th November.  We’ve had quite a hectic two weeks with much discussion and progress on secretariat matters as well as some key meetings.

All Party Parliamentary Group on the West Midlands Economy

Chaired jointly by Ian Austin MP and Mark Garnier MP for Kidderminster, over 20 West Midlands MPs turned up in one of the Westminster Committee Rooms for an excellent exchange of views and information with the Chairs of the West Midlands LEPs.  We discussed issues including transport, planning, inward investment and enterprise zones, and in particular how they could support our efforts and how we could help them.  We resolved to meet regularly and dates have been indicated for about quarterly sessions.

Worcestershire LEP Board

Hosted this time at Oakland International near Beoley as we rotate the venues, the Board had a very full discussion on performance to date and the way forward.  Proposals were tabled in outline by the County council on behalf of the local authority family across Worcestershire for the provision of a more robust secretariat support team.  I would certainly welcome such support as it will relieve several of us from much of the day to day pressure and will enable better corporate governance.  At the time of writing we await further details of the proposals and hope to have the team in operation during November.

District tours

Tony Hyde and myself were given very helpful tours of Redditch and Bromsgrove Districts earlier this week, both of which we welcomed and found extremely enlightening.  We are particularly grateful to Ken Harrison and to Carol Gandy for their time and careful explanations of the challenges and opportunities that exist to grow their respective economies.  There is a stark contrast between the structure of the two districts and therefore the challenges and potential solutions.

Meeting with Eric Pickles

Thanks to Mark Garnier MP for arranging this most useful meeting with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government yesterday.  Together with Mark, Tony and Ian Miller and Ken Harrison from Wyre Forest DC, we met with Mr Pickles to discuss the outcome and way forward for the South Kidderminster Enterprise Zone.  We explained the determination of Wyre Forest DC and ReWyre to press on with local development orders, superfast broadband, and provisions for potential business rates rebates under the Localism Bill when it becomes effective in the spring, not just for the British Sugar site which is ‘shovel ready’ but for over 200 hectares along the Worcester Road and Stourport Road corridors.  He gave us considerable encouragement including some real hope regarding potential funding for off site infrastructure improvements.  It was a good meeting and potential good news for Kidderminster.

Future Events and Dates

Monday 14th Nov – meeting with BIS National at Bosch

Thursday 17th Nov – meeting of LEP chairs re JLR supply chain for i54 Engine Plant

Friday 18th Nov – Redditch Business Leaders event

Tues 29th Nov – Place Shaping Group meeting