LEPs propose merger to secure 'bigger share of the prize' for Yorkshire
Two local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) in Yorkshire are proposing a strategic merger to create a new business-led body covering a population of 3.1million people and an economy worth �70.3billion.
The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership has each approved the merger at board meetings held over the past week. The move would see York and North Yorkshire combine with West Yorkshire to form a single LEP, responsible for significant potential investment to boost economic growth and social inclusion.
At almost 4,000 square miles, the geography of the proposed new LEP would cover 8% of England and bring together a diverse mix of rural and coastal areas, towns and cities.
The development is the result of a Government review into local enterprise partnerships nationally, announced by Housing, Communities and Local Growth Secretary James Brokenshire MP, in the summer.
The review aims to build on the achievements of LEPs to date and strengthen their accountability, ready for taking on responsibility for the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, set to replace European funding once the UK leaves the European Union. This funding could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the new, enhanced LEP area.
The Chairs of the two existing LEPs � Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chair of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership � said: �Our respective LEPs have achieved a great deal over the past seven years, from putting in place nationally acclaimed rural business support schemes to securing major investment for new transport and broadband infrastructure.
�Now we have an opportunity to do even more for the rural, coastal and urban communities we represent, by bringing together elements of our existing LEP geographies into a combined engine for extraordinary economic growth that will enable all parts of our region to prosper.
�We also have the opportunity to learn from each other�s strengths and achievements � for example extending the successful Grow Yorkshire initiative in York and North Yorkshire to support rural businesses in West Yorkshire as the UK prepares to leave the EU, and enabling people in North Yorkshire to share in major transport and broadband investment.
�Of course there will be details to resolve over the coming months, but we approach this new phase with a clear sense of the opportunity we have to secure a bigger share of the prize through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and a shared optimism of what we can achieve together for our region and all its communities.�
The two existing LEPs will form a transition sub-group to look at the key issues they need to address together as they approach the partial merger. The full merger is expected to be complete and the new LEP in place by April 2020.
One of the key requirements of the Government�s LEP Review was to remove overlaps between existing LEP geographies.
The new proposed LEP geography would cover the unitary and district council areas of Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Kirklees, Hambleton, Harrogate, Leeds, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, Wakefield and York plus North Yorkshire County Council.
It is expected that Barnsley, which is currently part of the Leeds City Region, will remain with the Sheffield City Region LEP, while the East Riding area that forms part of the existing York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP will remain part of the Humber LEP.