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The geography of LEPs: final list

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles and business secretary Vince Cable have announced that 57 bids from across the country have been received for new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) that are set to take the lead on economic development from the regional development agencies.


Since communities secretary Eric Pickles and business secretary Vince Cable wrote to councils and businesses across England (see letter - attached below) inviting them to put together proposals for new economic development partnerships to replace the regional development agences there has been a flurry of activity in town halls.

Mr Pickles and Mr Cable said the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), as the new bodies are to be called, would be sub-regional consortia of councils and businesses that would focused on driving economic growth. As guidance, the ministers said the partnerships should comprise at least two upper tier authorities and should cover functional economic areas.

LGC also obtained a letter, signed by junior minister Andrew Stunell on behalf of decentralisation minister Greg Clark, to the District Councils Network stressing the importance of natural economic geographies rather than County Council administrative boundaries in forming LEPs (see letter below).

Below LGC provides a full detailed list of the 57 LEP proposals received by the 6 September deadline, which will not be scrutinised by ministers.

It should also be noted that these are proposals for LEPs. Ministers will have the final say on which proposals are accepted and there is no presumption that every area will have a LEP.

Total bids: 57

Source - Department for Communities & Local Government. Health warning: in some cases councils may be listed in the bid but that does not mean they support the bid (ie- Humber). I have tried to flag this up where relevant.

North West - 8 bids

The region’s LEP geography emerged relatively smoothly, with the exception of Lancashire, where the county council pushed ahead with a bid covering its county area, despite opposition from its unitaries and some of its districts. The region’s council leaders are also committed to forming “some form” of residual regional coordinating body to champion the region in Whitehall and to lead on high-level strategic functions, such as inward investment.

  • Cumbria: Cumbria CC & its six districts
  • Blackpool & Fylde Coast: Blackpool BC , Fylde BC and Wyre BC
  • Pennine Lancashire: Blackburn with Darwen BC , Pendle BC, Ribble Valley BC, Burnley BC, Hyndburn BC, Rossendale BC
  • Lancashire: Lancashire CC, Preston City Council, Lancaster City Council, South Ribble BC, Chorley BC, West Lancashire DC (The county has said the bid will cover the whole county area in opposition to Blackpool and Blackburn proposals)
  • Merseyside: Liverpool City Council, Sefton MBC, Knowsley MBC, St Helens MBC, Halton BC, Wirral MBC
  • Greater Manchester city region
  • Cheshire & Warrington: Warrington BC, Cheshire West & Chester Council, and Cheshire East Council
  • *A outlier bid was also submitted by Peel Holdings, a property group, covering the area of the company’s Atlantic gateway development across Merseyside and Greater Manchester. However, as the bid had no local authority support the company has now withdrawn its proposal and will instead focus on developing a special purpose vehicle for the development area that will be accountable to the Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire-Warrington LEPs.

North East - 6 bids

Early calls for a single regional LEP to replace regional development agency One North East faded when Tees Valley chose to pursue its own bid. Now there are five proposals for sub-regional LEPs tied in with a proposal for a region wide LEP that will take the lead on more strategic issues. Paul Watson, Sunderland City Council leader and Association of North East Councils chair, said whereas the sub-regional LEPs would focus on local issues, such as housing and planning, the regional partnership would take on many of the functions of One North East, the soon-to-be-abolished regional development agency.

  • Newcastle Gateshead: Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council
  • Northumberland CC and North Tyneside Council
  • Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside MBC
  • Durham County Council
  • Tees Valley Unlimited - Middlesbrough Council, Darlington BC, Stockton-on-Tees BC, Redcar & Cleveland BC, Hartlepool BC
  • North East Economic Partnership: comprising all five of the region’s LEPs

Yorkshire & Humber - 5 bids

The region was the first to state its direction of travel post-RDA, but a clear vision for four LEP bids became complicated after Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council said they wanted a North Humber LEP only, rather than one that covered both banks of the estuary. This left North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils in LEP limbo and caused some rather public rows. The result was that North Lincolnshire submitted a bid for a Humber-wide LEP, despite the north bank councils objections, while North East Lincolnshire wanted a south bank LEP. Like the North West and the North East, the region’s leaders are also committed to some form of coordinating regional body.

  • Leeds City Region (including Craven DC , Harrogate BC, City of York Council , and Selby DC from North Yorkshire and Barnsley, which plans to be part of two LEPs*)
  • York and North Yorkshire - North Yorkshire CC and four districts, as well as York, which plans to sit in both the Leeds City region and the North Yorkshire LEP*
  • Sheffield City Region (including North East Derbyshire DC, Chesterfield BC, Bolsover DC from Derbyshire and Bassetlaw DC from Nottinghamshire)
  • Hull, East Riding & Scarborough: Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Humber: North Lincolnshire Council has submitted a bid that would comprise a Humber-wide partnership despite the opposition of Hull and East Riding. North East Lincolnshire Council wanted to submit a bid for a south bank LEP with North Lincolnshire.

*As is currently the case, Barnsley MBC is likely to remain part of both the Leeds and Sheffield city region partnerships. DCLG acting permanent secretary Irene Lucas has said councils will be able to sit in two LEPs, if all the partners agree and they make a clear case for it.

West Midlands - 7 bids

The main point of conjecture was whether Greater Birmingham would take in the Black Country and Solihull. Ultimately the former chose to have their own partnership, while Solihull chose to stick with Greater Brum rather than join the Coventry & Warwickshire partnership. A regional bid comprising the region’s 33 councils has also been submitted.

  • The Potteries: Staffordshire CC and districts and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. However, East Staffordshire BC has voted to join the Birmingham City Region as has Lichfield DC and Tamworth BC
  • The Marches Enterprise Partnership: Herefordshire CC, Shropshire CC and Telford & Wrekin Council
  • The Black Country: Wolverhampton City Council, Dudley MBC, Sandwell MBC and Walsall MBC
  • Greater Birmingham - Birmingham City Council and Solihull MBC, Tamworth BC, East Staffordshire BC, Lichfield DC
  • Coventry and Warwickshire and districts
  • Worcestershire and districts
  • West Midlands: submitted by Business Voice West Midlands and includes all the region’s 33 local authorities

East Midlands - 4 bids

The geography was most uncertain in the East Midlands where a number of conflicting proposals were in play. Although Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire agreed a proposal several weeks ago with their districts and unitaries, a plan for a LEP uniting Leicester, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire fell through with each county submitting a bid based on its adminstrative area. However, the Northamptonshire bid does not have the support of its distrcit coucnils, who favour a partnership with the South East Midlands LEP (see below). Leicestershire CC leader David Parson has told LGC he expects ministers to reject these separate proposals and push for a multiple county LEP.

  • Derbyshire CC and districts, Derby City Council, Nottinghamshire CC and districts, Nottingham City Council
  • Greater Lincolnshire: Lincolnshire CC and districts, North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council
  • Leicester & Leicestershire: Leicestershire CC and districts, Leicester City Council
  • Cross Roads of England - Northamptonshire CC (does not have support of districts)

Greater South East – 20 bids

Here county councils have largely courted unitaries to form LEPs based on traditional county council boundaries in partnership with their districts. However, there are a number of conflicting proposals which minsters will have to come to decisions on. A late intervention from Eric Pickles saw previously separate proposals from Kent and Essex come together as a ‘super-LEP’. However, while Essex secured support from all its districts as well as Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea, Kent CC only secured support from three districts and Canterbury City Council. The remaining districts in Kent remained wedded to the proposal binding them with Medway Council. There are also a number of conflicting proposals covering Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey.

  • South East Midlands: Milton Keynes Council, Bedford BC, Central Bedfordshire Council, Luton BC, and Aylesbury Vale DC ( from Buckinghamshire) and Cherwell DC (from Oxfordshire) and South Northamptonshire DC, Daventry DC, Northampton BC, Kettering BC and Corby BC (from Northamptonshire)
  • Greater Cambridge & Greater Peterborough: Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire CC and its districts and Peterborough City Council, and North Hertfordshire DC (Hertfordshire),  Rutland CC, King’s Lynn & West Norfolk BC (Norfolk), Fenland DC, Forest Heath DC (Suffolk)
  • East Anglia: Suffolk CC, Norwich City Council, Barbegh DC, Waveney DC, Ipswich BC, Mid Suffolk DC, Forest Heath DC, Suffolk Coastal DC, St Edmundsbury BC
  • Norfolk CC and districts
  • Hertfordshire CC and districts
  • Kent-Essex: Essex CC and its districts, Southend-on-Sea Council, Thurrock Council and Kent CC, Canterbury City Council, Dover DC, Shepway DC, Thanet DC
  • Kent and Medway: Kent district councils and Medway Council
  • Bexley LBC, Dartford BC and Gravesham BC
  • East Sussex CC and its districts
  • Coast to Capital: West Sussex CC and its districts and Brighton & Hove City Council, Croydon LBC, and the Gatwick Diamond
  • Hampshire: Basingstoke and Deane BC, East Hampshire DC, Eastleigh BC, Fareham BC, New Forest DC, Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council, Winchester City Council, Gosport BC, Hart DC, Rushmoor DC, Test Valley DC
  • Gatwick Diamond: Surrey CC; Crawley BC; West Sussex CC; Horsham DC; Croydon LBC; Mid Sussex DC Brighton and Hove City Council; Mole Valley DC; Reigate and Banstead BC; Tandridge DC
  • Surrey Connects: Surrey CC and its districts
  • Solent: Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council, Eastleigh BC, Fareham BC, Gosport BC, Havant BC, New Forest DC, Test Valley BC , Winchester City Council, and Isle of Wight Council
  • Oxfordshire City Region: Oxfordshire CC and districts
  • Thames Valley Berkshire: West Berkshire Council, Reading BC, Bracknell Forest BC, Windsor & Maidenhead RBC, Slough BC, Wokingham BC
  • Thames Valley Buckinghamshire: Buckinghamshire CC, South Buckinghamshire DC, Wycombe DC and Chiltern DC
  • Enterprise M3 - North Hampshire & M3 corridor: Test Valley DC, Basingstoke & Deane BC, Hart DC, Rushmoor DC, Surrey Heath DC
  • Coastal West Sussex: covers Arun, Adur, Chichester and Worthing, as well as West Sussex CC
  • Visitor Economy Southern England: A private sector-led bid submitted by Tourism South East. The bid is supported by the TSE’s 54 local authority members and would see the LEP providing leadership on the visitor economy for the LEPs that are finally approved in the South East. To read more see here

South West – 7 bids

With Cornwall electing to form a peninsula ‘tip’ proposal with the Isle of Scilly, Devon formed a bid with its unitaries. The West of England partnership confirmed its bid early on while Swindon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire also decided to come together. Somerset was left in LEP limbo, but has put in a proposal for a LEp over its own area.

Plus …

London - 4 bids ?

LGC understands that four bids were being developed in London comprising boroughs in the East of London, as a London Thames Gateway LEP, including the five Olympic Host Boroughs as well as Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge; a North London partnership comprising the boroughs in the North London Strategic Alliance - Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest; a West London partnership comprising Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow as well as a cross river partnership of Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth and possibly Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.

These bids were not included in the official list but are still in the pipeline, LGC has been told, with ministers concerned to discuss the proposals with the mayor of London and the boroughs before acting, as many of the functions, such as employment and skills, that the boroughs want to control through their LEPs are already in the control of the Mayor.

LGC was told by a source close to the process, that ministers need to first determine their response to the joint-submission from the Mayor of London and London Councils on changes to London’s devolution settlement, before devleoping a view on the London LEPs.

“There is an additional level of complexity in London with the LEPs as the mayor’s economic development agency holds responsibility for economic development and that is not being abolished like in the regions with the RDAs,” a source said.

“But the boroughs are making a strong case that some aspects of economic development need to be devolved to sub-regions within London: employment and skills, support for SMEs, these kinds of things, with the mayor focusing on more strategic things like inward investment.”



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Readers' comments (3)

  • Regarding the bids from the South West, I'd like to point our that Cornwall is joined by the Isles of Scilly, not just one isle as reported. We do not anticipate that through the duration of LEPs that the effects of global warming and rising sea levels will reduce the Isles of Scilly to a solitary island. (Cornwall resident)

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  • @Bob Northey Thanks, Bob, apologies. Allister Hayman.

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  • Good work Allister - Northamptonshire's bid is total duplication of SEMLEP !

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