Geoff French, the Chairman of the LEP, reminded the Committee that Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had been established in 2011. The LEP covered the area from the New Forest to the M25, incorporating a number of towns, 1 city and parts of 2 national parks.
The Committee was informed that the LEP area had one of the highest performing economies in the UK and had a highly educated workforce. The area had a concentration of growth sectors, especially science and technology, and there was some room for business to expand.
The budget for running the LEP was £800,000, of which £500,000 was received from the Government; the 14 district authorities in the LEP area contributed £10,000 each and the 2 County Councils provided £20,000 each. Further income was received from sponsorship. It was also recognised that lots of work was provided by the private sector for free.
Last year the LEP had secured £148m of local growth funds to be spent over the next 6 years. It had also secured £42m in project loans at a very low interest rate. Mr French reported that the £22m the LEP had available to loan out when it was first established had begun to be paid pack, which in turn was being recycled in new loans. It was also advised that EU funds were about to be launched.
A number of projects that had been supported by the LEP across its area in the past year were noted. Included in this were road projects around the towns in the area and a number of sustainable transport packages, including a project for facilities from Blackwater Station along the Blackwater Valley.
Members were reminded that the Leader was an EM3 Board Member and the Chief Executive was a member of the EM3 European Management Group. In relation to Surrey Heath, the LEP had provided money to the Council to acquire a SANG site in order to facilitate development. It had also arranged a project loan at a very low interest rate for the Council for a project in Camberley.
The Committee was advised that the LEP was involved in plans to improve the A30/ A331 junction; the scheme for the junction was currently being revisited but remained in its programme. However, one part of the scheme relating to a cycle way from Blackwater Station to the business parks was ready to go ahead. There was also a scheme in the programme for future years for improvement along the A30 through Camberley. Members noted that Camberley had been identified as a “step up town” and recognised the importance of improving infrastructure around the Town.
It was reported that the criteria used by the government to assess the bids put forward by the LEP was the number of job opportunities and houses created by a project. It was advised that, in relation to developing the LEP’s programme, the organisation responded to the schemes primarily brought by the Highways authorities and had carried forward the Government’s methodology in ranking schemes for priority.
RESOLVED to note the presentation.