Broadland’s councillors have criticised the region’s Local Enterprise Partnership for a “lack of engagement” – and demanded to see more specific local benefits for the district’s businesses.

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The government-backed New Anglia LEP, formed to champion business growth in Norfolk and Suffolk, was invited to give a progress presentation to Broadland District Council’s cabinet this morning (Tuesday).

Stuart Clancy, portfolio holder for economic development, said he had received no direct communications from the LEP and that the district’s businesses had seen no specific returns for the council’s £7,000 in annual fees paid to the partnership.

He added that he was concerned that the LEP could be seen as simply another “bureaucratic qango”.

Jason Middleton, funding and projects manager at New Anglia, defended the partnership’s achievements, including the creation of an online business portal, securing funding for infrastructure projects and developing the new Enterprise Zone in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

He said the group was working hard to ensure the benefits of these projects were spread as widely as possible, and said they would work to improve communications with Broadland.

Mr Clancy said: “I want to be clear that I agree with the principle of the LEP, but there have been considerable doubts raised about its performance.

“I fear that it will simply adopt a model similar to EEDA (the now-defunct East of England Development Agency). That is not what the business community wants. They want an organisation that delivers for business.

“I personally have not received any reports from the LEP whatsoever regarding their activities. I think one of their biggest failings is poor communication. The majority of members of the Broadland Business Forum have never heard of them.

“The LEP has done some very good work, but it has not specifically benefited Broadland. They need to sharpen up their act considerably, because the business community needs it, and wants it.”

The LEP’s report outlines a range of mechanisms used to engage with its partners in both the public and private sector, including newsletters, conferences and more than 100 presentations made to local authorities, business groups and other stakeholders.

Mr Middleton pointed out that monthly meetings with economic development officers had not been well attended by Broadland, but he said the LEP would be happy to make regular future reports direct to Broadland’s cabinet.

He said: “One of the things we have constantly said since the board was formed last April is that we will ensure our partners are kept informed, and that has not changed.

“There is a whole range of activities we are involved with and we are working to make sure the benefits are being distributed as widely and as fairly as possible.

“Funding is very limited and a lot of our large-scale activities have been driven by the government in terms of where that money can be spent. But we are campaigning to make sure we have as much flexibility as possible to bring these benefits where they are required, including in Broadland.”

After the meeting, LEP board member John Fuller, also the leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “We are all very surprised with Broadland District Council’s attitude. The facts don’t really bear out their complaint. It doesn’t matter how we try and engage, they don’t seem to want to listen.

“I think it is a shame that while there is going to be tens of millions of pounds going into the local economy through the LEP, Broadland have chosen this funny way of making friends and influencing people.”

4 comments

  • Did no one at Broadland ask LEP ? seems near to negligence to me.

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    countywize

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

  • It is a QUANGO there are Opportunities every where but they are blind. Stop Press! UK doubles subsidies for tidal and wave energy! Yet another chance for our council to produce the “Midas Touch” if their ignorance will allow them to be guided by industry? For many hours I have stood on the quay near Haven Bridge wondering how to capture the energy from the many millions of tonnes of "free" water which passes there each day. When you consider the large volume of water from the streams of the several Northern and Southern rivers that "drain" many miles of Norfolk and Suffolk each day through to the narrows North side of Haven Bridge also the "free" tidal effect (twice per day) there has just got to be an opportunity for cash and job generation. It is both very reliablepredictable as well as being extremely green! Another item, Wind Farm Vessels, this subject ought to get the attention of "The Wheels" of the Town. Alicat is now very much an industry leader, their "Richards" facility is already overloaded, few opportunities still exist in town. These Service Vessels arrive in the equivalent of “flat pack self-assemble” Ventureforths Southtown Road quayside yard is ideal as well as the ex Bunns Ice House Quay (the Halls site could well be considered instead of housing as it is quite large and close to the River, (closing the road for a "launching by crane" for 30 minutes or so ought not be a problem). In last weeks Mercury the negative report on the Outer Harbour expressing the “Noise Problem” just highlights what problems will arise if residential housing is built opposite working quays, how long will it be before complaints of “noise pollution” shuts down working quays, exit shipping, exit jobs. But consider Lowestoft with the several chances of developing vacant and "for sale" sites such as Sanyo and Jeld Wen as well as the under used Brooke Marine. The opportunities are amazing, however unless "The Wheels" who, when you evaluate it, have little (if any) understandingknowledge of the Energy Sector, start to accept "advice" from those of us that do have an understanding, other areas will grab the chances. When you observe the volume of wind farm craft (mainly currently Sheringham Shoal) using Town Hall Quay from 04:00 thru to 21:00 hrs.) you only have to look at the potential of the dramatic increases in service craft due to future developments to realise riverside housing development and the third crossing is a crime, as these projects will reduce yet further the chances of much needed employment. As working vessels will not use any port that has to rely on bridge operations or the fickleness of residential properties adjacent to marine operations. Whilst the outer harbour remains "an interest" and seemingly no more than that, the River Port has the serious potential to develop employment opportunities. WILL ANYONE LISTEN?

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    John L Cooper

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

  • Of course it's another hot-air quango, which last till the next election and be disbanded with bags of cash redundancy payments for those at the helm. Zilch real jobs will be created and millions of taxpayer loot will be wasted..as per usual.

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    nrg

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

  • John L Cooper, I have wondered the very same thing for King's Lynn, situated right alongside the Ouse, which flows twice a day, every day, come rain or shine. Everything coming from County Hall benefits one of them in some way, all the companies are set up to put money into the same old pockets by awarding contracts to themselves. It sure puts a new twist on the term 'insider trading'.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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