Top enterprise chiefs hopeful of a bigger say

    BUSINESSES throughout the county could soon have a bigger say in government policy under plans to enhance the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

    Kent, along with East Sussex and Essex, is part of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership [SELEP] – a body set up in 2011 to help lead job creation, enable house building and promote a stronger skills agenda for the region’s combined economy.

    Ministers are currently discussing how to boost the powers of Local Enterpise Partnerships [LEPS] throughout the UK.

    Jake Berry, Minister for Local Growth, said it is the government’s ‘ambition’ to strengthen the role of LEPs during this Parliament.

    Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark is currently spearheading the government’s industrial strategy, which in turn advocates the role of LEPs.

    SELEP Chairman Christian Brodie believed ‘the time is right’, given Brexit, to properly recognise the important role of LEPs, and the future opportunity created by public-private partnerships in supporting businesses and communities.

    He said: “Promoting business growth, improving skills, strengthening our key trade links to the rest of the UK, and keeping international markets open for business are at the heart of what SELEP is focused on achieving.

    “To do this, it is important that SELEP, and all of our partners in our robust federal model, continue to present a strong aggregate voice to government. “The review coincides with us updating our Strategic Economic Plan to make sure it presents the strongest possible case for our share of future government funding.”

    SELEP was instrumental in championing the case for a Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend, which eventually succeeded in securing a £6billion government investment in the project.

    The crossing will see a tunnel dug beneath the Thames linking Shorne in Kent with Tilbury in Essex.