Does West London need a Local Enterprise Partnership?
Oct 5 2010
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are a hot topic and their creation could have a significant impact on areas and cities all over the UK.
LEPs – the brainchild of the Coalition Government - will replace Regional Development Agencies and be charged with promoting economic development and jobs growth. The thinking behind their creation is the idea that local economies develop around a ‘natural economic geography’. LEPs are also expected to lead on regeneration and infrastructure.
West London is rumoured to have made a bid to the Government to have its very own LEP even though the Government stated that separate arrangements would apply in London. A West London LEP covering Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow has been proposed, however, bids for London haven’t been made public, primarily because many of the anticipated LEP responsibilities overlap with those already covered by the Mayor.
The Coalition Government recently confirmed that London LEPs will be allowed to go ahead in the Capital. The specific powers of LEPs are still up for discussion and won’t be revealed until the Comprehensive Spending Review later this month, raising the question whether west London would benefit from its own LEP.
Place West London, the economic summit for the region will highlight the issue in a session at a one-day conference on 14th October 2010. Jackie Sadek, CBRE’s Head of Regeneration and Chair of newly formed UK Regeneration will address the issue as part of a panel discussion, tackling issues such as, should an LEP be formed, what should it aim to do, who should be involved and what would success look it?
Jackie Sadek alluded to her views on a west London LEP by saying: “The situation for LEPs in London is rather confused and we need to help find some clarity. Above all else, the private sector needs clarity and stability if it is to be persuaded to invest. Through the work of the West London Partnership, west London has always been the most coherent sub region of London, in terms of its streamlined infrastructure to support local economic development.
"This is something that should be built upon. We would be missing a trick now if we do not exploit the opportunity to form a west London LEP with significant corporate presence in the area, one of the biggest employment sites in Heathrow and the manufacturing asset of Park Royal at its heart”.
If a LEP is established it would work very closely with West London Business. But would a partnership help or a hinder the organisation that is the voice of the business community in west London?
Russell Harris, Deputy Chief Executive of West London Business said: “West London is one of the most successful sub-regional economies in Europe, representing about £35billion to the UK economy, and we want it to stay that way. Heathrow Airport, it skills base, proximity to London connectivity and growing clusters has attracted many global businesses to the area. It is important that a successful economy like west London continues to attract and retain major employers, and create new employment through enterprise support to the new high tech and creative sectors that are thriving in west London. Working with a partnership that will support similar objectives to our own can only be a positive step in ensuring the economic competitiveness of the area.”
LEPs are not the only economic promotion tool being discussed for west London, in Park Royal; the partnership is looking to launch a Business Improvement District (BID). BIDs are an established mechanism where local businesses pay a levy to an organisation to fund improvements that will benefit businesses in the area. There are several operational in London such as HammersmithLondon BID which works to keep retail footfall high in Hammersmith town centre and Ealing Broadway BID which is tasked with making Ealing Broadway Town Centre a better place.
The businesses in west London are looking at various methods to maintain the crucial investment needed in the area, particularly during a time of economic austerity. Park Royal Partnership (PRP) is looking to launch a BID and Brian Hinchley, Acting Chief Executive of PRP said:
“A West London LEP and the Park Royal BID are complementary and business led. They will both rely upon strong relationships with key stakeholders such as the local authorities to be at their most effective. We need to work together to keep west London as a leading sub-regional economy, there are plenty of cities who would love to steal that position away, and who are working actively to do so. Businesses need to engage in LEPs and BIDs and other economic promotion mechanisms to keep west London great”
Place West London takes place at Chelsea Football Club on 14th October 2010; please visit www.placewestlondon.com for further information.