Birmingham LEP expands its empire

BIRMINGHAM’S Local Enterprise Partnership has added Redditch and Wyre Forest to its membership to become what it claims is one of the biggest LEPs in the country.

Officially known as the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, the body already includes East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth, Bromsgrove and Cannock Chase.

The new districts say they will remain members of the Worcestershire LEP.

Birmingham LEP’s interim chairman Bridget Blow said: “We are delighted at this development and excited to work with business and local authorities from North Worcestershire in the interests of our local businesses and communities.

“The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP is now one of the largest in the country with a population of two million people and 950,000 existing jobs.”

Councillor John Campion, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council said: “Wyre Forest District Council, as part of the North Worcestershire group of councils, is delighted to be a member of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.  We recognise the importance of LEPs as they will be central to regional growth.  Being a member will mean we will be at the heart of the decision-making process and will it give us an influential role in the economic success of the area.”

Tony Hyde, Managing Director of Thomas Vale Construction Plc, said: “My business is one of many in the Wyre Forest that have deep and extensive links in the Birmingham area as well as in Worcestershire. The news that Wyre Forest will also be in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP means that the needs of businesses in the district will be on the agenda in this important partnership as well.”

The Development Board has identified a number of areas to urgently deliver private sector- led growth and jobs.

They include supporting the runway extension at Birmingham Airport; improving planning regimes to promote growth; expanding access to finance for SMEs; developing an employer-led approach to skills and employment; and providing effective and relevant business support and mentoring.

The board says it is also exploring the potential to ensure LEP businesses are prioritised when it comes to servicing the LEP’s local authorities’ needs.  The Development Board also committed to assisting local businesses in their applications to the second round of the Regional Growth Fund.

Ms Blow said: “We will develop a toolkit to assist in their understanding of the bidding process, Green Book status and state aid concerns.”