Businesses have their say on LEP economic plan
LEP conference hears feedback from businesses Barriers stunting business growth in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin include road and rail connectivity, slow broadband speeds and support for skills and youth unemployment,…
LEP conference hears feedback from businesses
Barriers stunting business growth in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin include road and rail connectivity, slow broadband speeds and support for skills and youth unemployment, a conference in the county was told.
The Marches LEP called on businesses to have their say on the partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which demonstrates how 72,000 homes could be built and nearly 40,000 jobs created – but only if key barriers to growth were removed.
More than 100 delegates from businesses attended the first Marches LEP conference at the Wroxeter Hotel last Tuesday, to hear more about the partnership’s vision as part of a month-long consultation on the 102-page SEP document. A second event was held as part of the Herefordshire Business Summit last Friday, February 28.
Graham Wynn OBE, chairman of the private sector-led Marches LEP, said: “We were asked by the Government to produce a plan of how we would use funding, firstly of around £98 million from the EU, and secondly an allocation from central Government. We do not yet know how much this allocation will be, our SEP will form the basis of a bid to Government of a slice of around £2 billion of funding, split between 39 LEPs.
“We have identified strategic priorities which we believe will be key to unlocking the potential of the Marches area and the conference was about gathering feedback and information on that.”
Matthew Bulley, Managing Director of leading Shropshire business, Caterpillar Remanufacturing Services, Shrewsbury, told the conference that connectivity was vital to business growth.
“We work across Europe and the Middle East, importing and exporting – we need to move our products around, we need to get products to our customers and to our businesses around the globe.
“Our competitiveness is affected by connectivity, it is a barrier to our growth.”
The conference, held on the same day that a new direct rail service to London was announced, heard that both the M54/M6 link and the electrification of the railway line in Shropshire were within the Department of Transport’s five year plan.
Mr Wynn told the conference that he had tackled the Prime Minister about the rail link during a meeting at Downing Street.
“I had the opportunity to speak to David Cameron on this rail link, he began to talk about how HS2 would transform the network, but I told him we need real connectivity now, not in another 15 years time.”
The draft SEP details how the Marches has the capability to deliver houses and employment sites at speed with a dedicated investment fund. And it highlights the importance of having the freedom to unlock land for development and support for infrastructure projects if the Marches is to achieve its potential.
A final version of the document will be submitted to Government at the end of April. The SEP can be viewed and downloaded from www.marcheslep.org.uk
Photos from the event can be viewed on Flickr, by clicking here
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