Political big hitters big up LEPs

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PRIME MINISTER David Cameron took his crusade for growth and enterprise on the road where he addressed a Local Enterprise Partnerships summit.

After holding a cabinet meeting at Rolls Royce in Derby and speaking as details emerged of a £50m growth fund to encourage innovation, Mr Cameron said LEPs were at the heart of the Government’s growth agenda.

He said: “Local enterprise partnerships are fundamental to the growth agenda. We believe that local people and local business leaders know best what works in their area.

“That´s why we are shifting power from Whitehall and quangos to the local communities and local businesses who really understand the barriers to growth in their areas. An approach where partnerships are formed over parts of the country people actually identify with and that make sense to business and reflect markets, rather than the old arbitrary regional boundaries.”

The Prime Minister was joined at the LEP summit in Coventry by Business Secretary Vince Cable, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles

Nick Clegg said successful bids to the Regional Growth Fund would be announced shortly and that the second round of the fund would open on April 12.

He said  that due to the number of high quality bids received the funding allocated to the first round may increase.

Mr Cable said: “Meeting with local enterprise partnerships and hearing their successes and their plans for the future has been incredibly useful. I´m confident that partnerships will be sufficiently armed with local knowledge and power to play a huge role in helping address the imbalance between local economies and boosting growth across the sectors.

Ministers confirmed their support for the formation of an Association of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Mr Pickles said: “Local enterprise partnerships now cover 90% of the country and the summit shows how important the voice of local councils, local business and civic leaders, will be. We think an Association of Local Enterprise Partnerships is a great idea so we´re going to help get it up and running as soon as possible.”

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