I feel that the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership is now at last beginning to get up a good head of steam and that it is starting to see tangible achievements ahead which I am confident will make a real difference to the future health and wealth of Worcestershire. The drive, vision and processes of our business community is being effectively harnessed in conjunction with and in real co-operation with the knowledge and resources of the public sector authorities across the county to work towards the objectives set out in the LEP’s vision and mission documents.
LEP Executive Director and Secretariat
Gary Woodman officially commenced his duties as Executive Director of the Worcestershire LEP on December 1st but his presence over the past two weeks has already made a big difference to the management of the LEP and has therefore allowed Directors, especially myself, to focus on the key ‘external’ strategic priorities and get less bogged down with day to day matters. Gary is currently engaged in recruiting an assistant officer and a secretary/PA to the secretariat and we believe we have now located a suitable independent office location in which the small team can be housed, certainly from the start of 2012. Having our own address, telephone numbers and email contacts will help enormously and assist in focusing incoming enquiries to one location. Please watch this space for further details. We are grateful to both central Government and to the local government family led by the County Council for the funding which will allow this to happen.
Growing Places Fund
The LEP has received a number of applications for funding under this scheme which I described in the last bulletin, assessment criteria have been agreed and a joint LEP/WCC panel is assessing the bids. On paper we are well oversubscribed, which is good news, but in practice some bids will not be ‘shovel ready’ and able to deliver soon enough for this first round. The fund is a ‘revolving fund’ and it is also hoped that Government will add further funds in due course, but we need some really quick hits to deliver first in order to build confidence. The LEP’s formal overall bid to Government will be finalized and submitted before Christmas so decisions on specific funding will likely appear early in 2012.
Proposed LEP Conference
Arrangements and dates are still being defined but we are now fully committed to the event and hope to be able to announce details shortly. The likely venue will be Sixways and we will arrange the proceedings such that it appeals to and is relevant to businesses across Worcestershire, large and small alike.
Place Shaping Group
A meeting of the Place Shaping Group took place on Tuesday 29 November at the offices of One Creative, Wildwood, Worcester, under the chairmanship of Simon Geraghty. The LEP and the PSG are resolved to work closely together on a number of key factors, not least on a protocol for streamlining ICAEWIthe planning process. An MOU to that effect is currently under consideration in an effort to make the processes more responsive and effective in attracting inward and other economic development in particular.
As many of you will know Mark shortly retires from his post as Head of Planning at Worcestershire County Council after a long and notable career. Mark has been a good friend to and great ally of the Worcestershire LEP during its formative months and I would like to thank Mark on behalf of the LEP for his support and constructive help. Whilst wishing him an enjoyable retirement, I also hope we may be able to use Mark’s wide experience from time to time in the future. Who knows?
Future Events and Dates
Wed 7th Dec – LEP Chair presentation to Institute of Chartered Accountants breakfast meeting – Sixways
Wed 14th Dec – LEP Network Funding Workshop – London Chamber of Commerce HQ
Wed 14th Dec – Chair and Exec Director meeting Harriet Baldwin MP at House of Commons
Wed 14th Dec – Low Carbon Economies meeting – House of Commons
Thurs 5th Jan – LEP Board Meeting
Tues 10th Jan – 2012 Olympics LEP event – Sixways
Mon 23rd Jan – All Party Parliamentary Group meeting West Mids LEP Chairs – House of Commons
Wed 25th Jan – West Midlands LEP Chairs meeting – Birmingham