SELEP welcomes Government review

The Government has announced it is to review the work of all 38 LEPs across the country during the summer, a move welcomed by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).

Jake Berry, Minister for Local Growth at the Department of Communities & Local Government described LEPs as an essential part of Government’s plan for driving local growth and the Industrial Strategy.

He added: “This review reflects our ambition to strengthen the role of LEPs during this Parliament. It is testament to our belief in your institutions and the tangible difference that you have been making on the ground. LEPs will continue to be critical to our future economic success.”

SELEP was created in 2011 to help identify local economic priorities, lead job creation, enable house building and promote a stronger skills agenda for the combined economy of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.

Christian Brodie, Chairman of SELEP, said: “The time is right, given Brexit and the Government’s emerging Industrial Strategy, to properly recognise the important role of LEP’s and the future opportunity created by our inclusive public- private partnerships in supporting businesses and communities in our areas.

“Promoting business growth, improving skills, strengthening our key trade links to the rest of the UK and keeping international markets open for business are at the heart of what SELEP is focused on achieving.

“To do this it is important that SELEP and all of our partners in our robust federal model continue to present a strong aggregate voice to Government.

“The review coincides with us updating our Strategic Economic Plan to make sure it presents the strongest possible case for our share of future government funding.

SELEP has recently been given the green light by Government for the investment of a further £102.6m in employment and skills, new transport and infrastructure to support business growth, which will unlock £141m of private investment, and will create or safeguard 33,000 jobs and allow the development of 6,000 new homes.

Adam Bryan, Managing Director of SELEP, said: “The last six years has seen SELEP go from strength to strength, with the public sector working closer than ever with the private sector to deliver on the needs of residents and businesses.

“We are fully signed up to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and are well placed to deliver on its vision. The current refresh of our Strategic Economic Plan aligned with Government thinking stands testament to this.

“The South East, with its track record of economic success, cannot be taken for granted and Government must continue to support our investment needs to enable us and the rest of UK PLC to thrive.”

Over the last year, SELEP successfully argued the case for a £6bn investment in a new Lower Thames Crossing, and is currently lobbying the Government to ensure this vital new piece of infrastructure is delivered as quickly as possible.

Key investment projects supported by SELEP’s Local Growth Fund include: • Safeguarding international rail services at Ashford through a £9.8m investment in new signalling, to be undertaken by Network Rail. • £16.6m for the North Bexhill Access Road, unlocking new homes and employment space in Bexhill.

• £3.5m for Stansted Airport Technical and Professional Skills Centre. The centre will provide training to bridge current and future skills gaps, specifically in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, known as STEM; aircraft maintenance and engineering; operational and plan engineering; logistics; supply chain management; higher level customer care service industries; and the visitor economy. It will also address the growing skills needs of the airport, the M11 Corridor and Harlow Enterprise Zone. • £3.5m towards Strood Civic Centre Flood Mitigation works, improving flood defences to enable work on a prime development site on the River Medway. • A £23m investment at London Southend Airport Business Park to unlock a 55-acre commercial site, expected to create more than 2,000 jobs. • An investment of more £70m in the widening of the A13 in South Essex. One of the largest investments made through the Local Growth Fund across the county and which will encourage growth in the heart of the Thames Estuary.