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Business Eye: Partnership bidding for slice of £2bn fund

Alex Pratt

Alex Pratt

  • by Alex Pratt, chairman of Bucks Business First
 

You can be forgiven for not yet knowing what the Local Enterprise Partnership for Bucks is all about.

There’s has been so much else in the news and you do have a life after all.

On the other hand, we need to reflect on how we have managed to burden future generations with a massive housing shortage, an energy policy in need of international rescue, air transport stuffed to full capacity, 30 years of serious under-investment in other economic infrastructure and a generation of young people blighted by a lack of employment.

This underlying declining economic position has been matched by a serious centralisation of economic power that has created huge national institutions and weakened local places and people, which in turn has helped create an unhealthy reliance on London.

Local Enterprise Partnerships are an attempt to arrest the long term trend by rebalancing strategic influence over the factors of production to better reflect the real needs here on the ground.

The Bucks LEP locks the five local authorities and the collective business community together with the evidence and needs in the local economy and exists to separate the dial moving economic priorities from the pet projects and myths.

The 39 LEPs in England have for the last year been in a competition for a £2 billion annum Local Growth Fund, and negotiating for devolution of centrally held freedoms to empower us to make better, faster decisions on matters that impact directly on jobs and growth.

We all know that the well-spring of added-value is the private sector, which mixes labour, land and capital together.

It doesn’t therefore take a rocket economist to see a clear line of sight between the availability of a skilled workforce, economic infrastructure and finance, and jobs and growth.

On Monday we will find out the extent to which we in Bucks are to be supported in our aims to amongst other things be the first place in the UK to test the economic potential of 5G mobile connectivity, build more social housing needed to house some key workers, channel much needed growth funding towards local growth businesses, and start to make a dent in the transport and infrastructure under- investment we have had to live with for the last 30 years.

Is it too much to believe that common sense might once again about to become more common practice?

 

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