Plans have been unveiled today to set up a new private sector driven Business Board to power the economic development of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The board will replace the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) after £37 million of its funding was frozen by government while concerns about its procedures were investigated.
A National Audit Office review last month highlighted concerns about the way the LEP managed conflicts of interest and a perceived lack of transparency about investment decisions.
Outlining the Business Board plans, Combined Authority Mayor James Palmer told a meeting at the Guildhall in Cambridge: “
“The decision to freeze LEP funding was unprecedented and my concern has always been that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough might miss out on much needed investment as a result.”
The board will be made up of representatives of eight business sectors plus the Combined Authority Mayor and leaders of local authorities.
It will become operational on April 1 next year and will provide advice to the Combined Authority on economic investment decisions. The LEP will be wound up next March with its staff transferred to the Combined Authority.
Mayor Palmer said: “I’m confident a new Business Board that will involve the public and private sectors will provide a powerful business voice for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and will enable concerns raised in the NAO report to be fully addressed.”
“From the start, my desire for a closer working relationship and collaboration between the Combined Authority and the LEP has been motivated by the need for this much needed investment into the area to be safeguarded and for decision making regarding future growth and infrastructure investment to be more streamlined and coherent.
Martin Whiteley, chief executive of the Combined Authority and interim chief executive of the GCGP LEP, said: “The creation of a new Business Board will strengthen the voice of business and will help create a more effective public and private partnership, which will subsequently attract more funding to the region and ensure the money that we have is better targeted.
“These new arrangements will also allow us to work closely with the key sectors which will deliver economic growth and they will mean the Business Board can be a transparent organisation, with reduced bureaucracy and delivering a more coherent and joined up response to businesses.”