Lincolnshire economic group backs Heseltine plan

David Dexter, deputy chairman of Greater Lincolnshire LEP
David Dexter, deputy chairman of Greater Lincolnshire LEP

A body that aims to boost Lincolnshire’s economy has backed Lord Heseltine’s plans to boost growth by handing more financial control to regions.

Heseltine, a senior Conservative figure from the Thatcher era, wants more control over spennding to be take at a local level.

His ideas, outlined in a review entitled ‘No Stone Unturned’, were mostly accepted by the Government this week ahead of tomorrow’s budget.

Its endorsement should mean that groups such as the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership get a greater say on spending here.

The LEP here should get access to £250,000 of new public funding in 2013/14 and 2014/15 to devise a local economic strategy, known as a Growth Plan.

David Dexter, deputy chairman of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “When these ideas were first circulated we welcomed the view that more decision-making and resources should be devolved to Local Enterprise Partnerships like the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

“Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire can only benefit from a LEP which has the power and responsibility to develop its own tailored economic plans and compete for a share in a single national pot to support growth.

“We have already started work on several of the things the Government is calling for, such as developing a plan for the coming years and identifying key costed priorities like improving rail and road links, becoming a front runner in broadband and bringing research and development opportunities closer to our businesses.

“The changes also call for the LEP to have a personal association with ministers and permanent secretaries, which can only help to strengthen our voice as we lobby to improve the conditions for doing business.

“While the Government will provide support, it firmly believes that LEPs should remain small, responsive, business-led organisations and avoid becoming local bureaucracies – this is something we are very keen to uphold.”

The LEP will also have the chance to bid for money to fund infrastructure work through the Public Works Loan Board Rate (PWLB) from November 2013.

Each LEP will be asked to nominate a suitable project, with the total borrowing capped at £1.5 billion, although full details are to be announced at a later date.