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Councils' concern over partnerships.

THE Government's local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are underfunded and unaccountable, according to a survey of council leaders. LEPs are joint initiatives between local authorities and businesses, which decide what the priorities should be for investment in roads, buildings and facilities in an area.

The survey of English county council leaders found that, while LEPs helped deliver major infrastructure projects, there were concerns over the way decisions were made and how they groups were resourced.

The County Councils Network (CCN) survey received responses from 21 of the 37 authorities serving county areas in England.

More than three-quarters (76%) agreed or strongly agreed that LEPs were unaccountable while 62% believed they lacked sufficient devolved funds.

But 65% agreed or strongly agreed that their LEP allowed them to deliver major projects and 66% said the bodies allowed them to develop growth strategies across country borders.

Jim Harker, CCN spokesman for economic growth, said: "LEPs are here to stay and many have begun to realise some truly ambitious plans, but we cannot be complacent.

"LEPs need to streamline their decision-making while ensuring their work is tailored to local needs. Equally, they need the devolved funding and powers to get the job done.

"The local growth fund is a good start, but we need to see central Government devolving budgets where it makes sense to do so, particularly in areas like skills."
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 6, 2014
Words:227
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