‘Work with me’ says Cambridgeshire Mayor to local enterprise partnership as government puts funding on hold

Cambridgeshire Mayoral election count at Ross Peers Sports Centre, Soham, James Palmer acceptance speech . Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridgeshire Mayoral election count at Ross Peers Sports Centre, Soham, James Palmer acceptance speech . Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridgeshire Mayor James Palmer is urging the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) to work with him to create “a really powerful relationship between business and local democratic leadership”.

In an open letter to the GCGP LEP Mayor Palmer claims the LEP is no longer able to fulfil its purpose to provide much needed help and finanial support for local businesses and is harming potential future investment in the area.

He said: “It is important that we provide leadership and act urgently and decisively to restore trust, including that of the wider business community and central Government.”

The letter comes after it was revealed central Government is withholding growth funding secured for the area whilst the National Audit Office undertakes an investigation into the LEP.

The letter goes on to say: “It is clear that GCGPLEP is no longer able to fulfil the purpose for which it was established and specifically to provide much needed help and financial support for local businesses. Furthermore, the current position is creating reputational damage and will inhibit the ability of the area as a whole to attract inward investment at a time when we face such a huge deficit in our infrastructure’.

“It is important that we provide leadership and act urgently and decisively to restore trust, including that of the wider business community and central Government’.

“My offer is to work with you to create a new model of local governance that will have at its centre a really powerful relationship between business and local democratic leadership. This will enable Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to deliver the substantial dividends it is capable of achieving.”

The letter was copied to Jake Berry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government, and has the support of the Combined Authority Mayor and his Cabinet.

On the letter, James Palmer added:

“We are focused on and committed to delivering significant growth in the local ecreatconomy but none of this can be achieved without a really strong relationship between business and local democratic leadership.

“For that reason, we have written to the GCGP LEP Board, with an outline offer of support and assistance to overhaul the current set-up.

“We are concerned that Government’s Growth Funding for the local area is currently on hold and are ready and willing to work with GCGP LEP to put in place a new model which would be more effective, efficient and produce better returns for local businesses and those wishing to invest in our region. We very much hope they accept our proposal and that we can work together to find a way through this unfortunate situation.”

Robin Howe, the Combined Authority’s deputy mayor, added: “We have looked at different models and solutions to take this forward as quickly as possible. We envisage a future where the Combined Authority and local enterprise partnership operate under a single umbrella, presenting ourselves to businesses and residents with singular ambition, objectives and delivery focus, whilst saving money for the tax payer.

“We envisage a business board with representation from the key sectors that will deliver the national and local industrial strategy. This would be a respected and powerful group which is focused on strategy and the programmes that will make a real difference to the growth of the area.

“There is a need for us to act urgently on this matter and ensure that the hard work and significant progress that has been made this year is not thrown off course.”

To see the letter in full, please visit the Combined Authority website at http://cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk/news/combined-authority-to-provide-leadership-on-review-of-local-growth-governance/