Manchester’s Private Partnership
With the bloodstains of last year’s Cull of the Quangos slowly drying, which saw the axe fall on 9 regional development agencies across England, Manchester’s leaders are now inviting applications from business leaders to be part of the region’s new Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Described by government as an opportunity for regions “to take control of their future economic development”, the LEPs are meant to bring together business representatives from across the region so they can work with local authorities to support private-sector growth.
Arriving in April this year, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) has opened a ‘recruitment process’ for business leaders across a range of industries who want to be part of the new body, which will be a cluster of public and private sector figures.
The seeds of the Local Enterprise Partnerships were sowed last summer, following the coalition’s announcement that all the regional development agencies – set up by the Labour government and employing around 3,400 people – would no longer receive funding.
In their place will be 28 approved partnerships across the country, including Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Cumbria, which AGMA chair Lord Peter Smith describes as “a key part in shaping and strengthening the relationship between private and public sectors in the months and years to come."
Touted as a key part of the government’s move towards decentralisation, the region’s leaders are stressing that the selection process will be a transparent one, with successful LEP applicants sitting as individuals rather than as representatives of their company, industry or representative body.
At the moment, a so-called ‘shadow’ partnership has been formed which will sit until arrangements for the permanent partnership have been signed, sealed and delivered this April. Its chair, John Early, explains that this will be an “opportunity to have an influential role in the economic success of the city region at the heart of the decision-making process."
Following the announcement of the scrapping of the North West Development Agency (NWDA), a number of major projects across Manchester saw their funding pulled, including Manchester Metropolitan University’s £120m Birley Fields Campus, the National Football Museum’s move from Preston to Manchester and the Corridor Manchester Public Realm scheme.
According to figures released by the North West Development Agency (NWDA), there was a £20 return for every £1 of their investment, generating a £400m boost to the Northwest economy. With access to a £1bn pot of money, time will tell if the new partnership is able to scrub up the region’s economy; perhaps the bloodstains will prove too hard to clear.
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