Chesterfield Borough Council has resolved to remain as a member of Derby Derbyshire Nottingham Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and to relinquish its membership of Sheffield City Region (SCR) LEP. The Council will, however, remain a non-constituent member of the Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “This is a decision that I neither take lightly nor is it a decision that I believe is necessary. But there is no option if we are to comply with the Government’s requirement for Chesterfield’s businesses and communities to in future be represented by a single LEP.
“Chesterfield’s businesses and communities have benefitted greatly from the Council being a member of both D2N2 LEP and SCR LEP since 2013 with £60 million plus of external funds having been secured for investment in infrastructure, business growth, skills and employment support.
“We would like this position to continue, however, Whitehall appears determined not to allow the geographies of two LEPs to overlap.”
At a meeting of full Council on 27 February this year, councillors received and considered a detailed report on the Government’s July 2018 review of LEPs.
Councillors noted in particular that councils were to be represented by one LEP from April 2020 contrasting with the position that has existed across many parts of England since 2013 where the businesses and communities of particular local authority areas have been represented by two or more LEPs. This has been the case in Chesterfield borough, where businesses and communities have been represented by both D2N2 LEP and SCR LEP.
Councillors also noted the Secretary of State’s statement that there would be consequences for non-compliant LEPs. This would include withholding payment of additional capacity funds to support LEPs to develop their respective Local Industrial Strategies and reducing the value of post-Brexit funding allocations (UK Shared Prosperity Fund).
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, continued: “I have a responsibility to act in the best interests of Chesterfield borough’s businesses and communities and indeed of all businesses and communities located within the D2N2 and SCR geographies in not limiting the ability of the two LEPs to realise the full value of their respective post-Brexit funding entitlements.
“By taking this decision today, D2N2 LEP and SCR LEP will be able to finalise their respective proposals to the Government for geographies which best reflect real functional economic areas and remove overlaps.
“Whilst our LEP membership will remain with D2N2, Chesterfield Borough Council will continue to maintain an active interest in SCR through its non-constituent membership of the Mayoral Combined Authority. This is viewed as essential to ensure the future alignment of D2N2’s and SCR’s key strategies on critical cross-boundary matters such as HS2 and strategic road networks.”
Elizabeth Fagan, Chair of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We’re pleased that Chesterfield Borough Council has confirmed its decision to remain a member of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership area. The UK Government had requested that all local authorities, located where two Local Enterprise Partnerships’ areas overlap, must decide which LEP they wished to be a member of.
“We very much recognise that the borough’s location means its communities look towards both Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Sheffield City Region LEP, to provide the Chesterfield area with the best support for its economy.”
The Leader of the Council will provide a full account of the reasons behind the decisions now made at the next meeting of full Council, which takes place on 17 July.