Mapping a new course for the network
LEP Chairs and Chief Executives from across the country gathered in London this week to hear about the changing role of the network into 2020 and beyond. Here, LEP Network Chief Executive, Mark Livesey, gives a personal insight on the day and the new approach.
“Evolution not revolution has characterised the development of LEPs over the past eight years or so – but a landmark meeting in London earlier this week marked a significant leap forward in that evolution when LEP Network Chair Mark Bretton and I led our first meeting of LEP Chairs and Chief Executives from across the country to map out the future role and direction of the LEP Network.
It was fantastic to meet with some of the UK’s senior business leaders who have pledged their expertise to sit on LEP Boards (there’s over 330 of them), alongside over 180 locally elected councillors, members of the HE and FE community, and leaders from the not for profit sector. A truly unique partnership of the private and public sector working to deliver real change in real places.
We enter 2020 with a clear plan of action that will enable us to strengthen our engagement in a more strategic way, improve our effectiveness, and champion the transformational work LEPs are driving across the country.
Our LEP Chairs and Chief Executives workshop identified clear immediate priorities. Most immediately, the critical support LEPs will provide at the local level during the Brexit transition phase. This includes the immediate support LEPs will provide in the transition period and continued support beyond; strengthening our position on decarbonisation and the clean growth agenda, and; increasing the understanding and visibility of LEPs across Whitehall, stakeholders and the wider business community.
A vital ongoing priority into next year will be our continued drive to improve the diversity of LEP boards, including increasing the number of women represented to better reflect the communities they serve. Although a good deal of work is already underway that’s paying dividends and encouraging more women applicants to apply for board roles, we must encourage more members of the BAME community to apply for board roles and we’ll be focussing on this in 2020 and beyond.
As part of this new drive, our Chair, Mark Bretton, has already been busy getting some direct face time with our key partners and stakeholders. These include meeting the Business and Industry Minister, Nadhim Zahawi MP, setting out our new approach with Dr Adam Marshall at the British Chambers of Commerce, and Chair of the Local Government Association, Councillor James Jamieson, as well as industry leaders across key sectors. The coming weeks will see similar meetings with the CBI, FSB amongst others.
LEPs are at a critical juncture in their evolution. There are vast opportunities for the role LEPs will play in a post Brexit environment – in terms of their evolution they have grown up and matured – now they will take on some of their biggest and most rewarding challenges in the years ahead.
Their business mind-set puts them in the strongest position to capitalise on the future opportunities that await them – along with our new Chair, Mark Bretton, and Vice Chair Roger Marsh, I am looking forward to championing the incredible work that LEPs are doing in every area of the country and making sure everyone knows about it!”