The battlegrounds over local enterprise partnership boundaries have been uncovered by LGC research.
Nineteen of the 38 LEPs have either proactively suggested boundary changes or become unwittingly involved in arguments over their membership. There are currently 14 areas where two LEPs overlap.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government called on LEPs in July to submit “considered proposals” on new geographies, describing the removal of overlaps as a “component part” of a plan to make the business-led organisations “more transparent, consistent and robust”.
The ministry said in its report that overlaps emerged when LEPs were “first formed on a voluntary basis” in 2011. But the existence of overlaps “dilutes accountability and responsibility for setting strategies for places”. The government wants to see the 75 councils that belong to two LEPs become a member of just one.
In response, the vast majority of LEPs have submitted proposals suggesting keeping the status quo. About five have proposed significant changes.
The local enterprise partnerships with disputed/proposed boundary changes
|Cambridgeshire & Peterborough/New Anglia||King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, St Edmundsbury BCs, Forest Heath DC to join New Anglia|
|Coast to Capital/London||Coast to Capital in dispute with London LEP over the latter’s bid to retain Croydon LBC|
|D2N2/Sheffield City Region||Sheffield wants to retain Bassetlaw, Bolsover and Derbyshire Dales DCs, and Chesterfield BC|
|Enterprise M3/Solent||Enterprise M3 bidding for East Hampshire DC, Test Valley BC and Winchester City Council from Solent, with New Forest DC going the other way|
|Greater Birmingham & Solihull/Worcestershire||Dispute over bid to retain Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest DCs, and Redditch BC|
|Greater Lincolnshire/Cambridgeshire & Peterborough||Bidding to incorporate Rutland CC, currently part of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough|
|Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire & Peterborough||North Hertfordshire DC expressed intention to remain solely within Herts LEP|
|Leeds City Region/Sheffield City Region/York, North Yorkshire & East Riding||Leeds bidding to combine with York City Council and North Yorkshire CC and its districts. East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Barnsley MBC to go to Sheffield City Region LEP|
|South East/Cambridgeshire & Peterborough/Coast to Captial||Uttlesford DC to leave Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and Lewes DC to remain solely with South East instead of Coast to Capital|
|Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire/Greater Birmingham & Solihull||Both LEPs want to retain Cannock Chase and Lichfield DCs, as well as East Staffordshire and Tamworth BCs|
|South East Midlands/Oxfordshire/Bucks Thames Valley||Cherwell DC to join Oxfordshire from South East Midlands; Aylesbury Vale DC to join South East Midlands from Bucks Thames Valley|
Tony Newman (Lab), leader of Croydon LBC which is wanted by both London and Coast to Capital LEPs, said: “There is an overwhelming economic case for Croydon to have a role in both LEPs, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“It is an absolutely farcical mess that the government have created with their diktat in this review that councils should only choose one LEP. I am hoping that some common sense will break out.”
Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest DCs and Redditch BC are involved in a tug of war between Greater Birmingham & Solihull and Worcestershire LEPs. LGC understands a meeting between leaders and ministers was due to take place on Tuesday evening.
Redditch leader Matthew Dormer (Con) said he was just going to “let things happen”.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire LEP chief executive Gary Woodman said that while his body would “prefer to see the overlap removed”, it felt local relationships would be damaged if it went further than to call for the overlap to remain.
“If the review is to remove overlaps then we think the overlap should roll back into the whole of Worcestershire – but we’ve got a good working relationship with the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and there is some merit to the status quo.”
A spokesperson for the LEP Network said discussions between LEPs and the government “to move forward” proposals was taking place.
The ministry’s report said it expects to issue a response to the LEPs’ proposals “in the autumn”, with an update to the national LEP assurance framework expected next April.