A new private-public sector partnership across Swindon and Wiltshire has put together a successful joint bid for LEP status (Local Enterprise Partnership). The group, led by business representatives from across Swindon and Wiltshire includes the Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership (SSEP), Wiltshire Strategic Economic Partnership (WSEP) and the two local authorities, Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.
Today the Business Minister, Mark Prisk announced: “I’m delighted that we are able to approve a proposal for a Swindon and Wiltshire partnership that has the best interests of the area at its heart. Local enterprise partnerships are making excellent progress in bringing together their plans for local growth, and I hope to see this partnership working quickly to identify the needs of the area it will serve” He continued, “Local enterprise partnerships have an important role to play in identifying each areas potential for growth and I want all local communities to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the private sector and the opportunities that growth brings.”
Discussions in the business community were conducted through the two business partnerships, the SSEP and WSEP, resulting in a proposal which reflects the approach taken by other successful LEP bids along the M4 corridor, developing a larger, more impactful LEP area, and designed to create an effective channel into Government.
Responding to the excellent news today, Rikki Hunt, Chair of the SSEP, and Paul Johnson, Chair of the WSEP said: “Our businesses have supported this proposal as they recognise the need to have a seat at the government’s table if we are to create the wealth, jobs and new business opportunities that will grow our economy for the benefit of our people. We’re delighted that Government has approved our proposal and look forward to working across the whole region to ensure the LEP makes a real difference.”
Welcoming the news, Councillor Roderick Bluh leader of Swindon Borough Council and Fleur de Rhe-Philipe, cabinet member for economic development at Wiltshire Council, commented together on their support for the LEP: “We recognise the importance of developing our economy and the role that business has to play in that. Our commitment to delivering a supportive environment is clearly articulated in our business plans and we understand that the commercial sector operates in markets, not administrative areas. The LEP approved today provides a great opportunity for business and local authorities to work together to create the conditions for growth across our two economies.”
The Swindon and Wiltshire LEP plans to help create 10,000 new private sector jobs and safeguard a further 8,000 by 2015. Its priorities include increasing the coverage of super-fast broad band, regenerating and improving connectivity between the main population areas, namely Swindon, Chippenham, Salisbury and Trowbridge town centres, and encouraging growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing and engineering, information technology and logistics. Other important aims for the partnership will be encouraging tourism in the area, reducing CO2 emissions and supporting the rural economy.