Within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, we have already created partnerships and delivery mechanisms that can easily be adapted to fulfil the role required for our LEP.
The heart of business support - the simple way to navigate support services
A suite of funds and investments to enhance business growth.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was launched in May 2011. Private sector-led, it is a partnership between the private and public sectors and is driving the economic strategy for the area, determining local priorities and undertaking activities to drive growth and the creation of local jobs.
The LEP is business-driven and our board currently includes nine representatives of the private sector in Cornwall, three Cornwall Council representatives, one representative from the Isles of Scilly Council and one representative from the education sector. Click for more info.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP is one of 39 LEPs across England set up following the Coalition Government's new approach to economic development. This new approach puts businesses in the driving seat and empowers the private sector to determine their own priorities.
I am delighted to report that the new European Growth Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has finally gone live following months of negotiations with the European Union and the UK Government.
What that means in practice is that the different Government departments that will manage the overall programme have started issuing calls or tenders for EU-funded projects.
Some of these calls are national and apply to all EU-funded areas in England, while others have been designed exclusively for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly following significant input from the LEP and its partners, including the business community.
These local proposals have been developed and agreed as recommendations to Government by a local board, which I chair. This board is made up of people from a range of local organisations as required by EU rules. All future calls will go through this board to make sure that they meet our needs and are in line with our business-led economic strategy.
This is important because although we do not have the level of control over the new EU programme that we had hoped, we do have significant influence over how the estimated £500 million of EU money will be invested between now and 2020, and will continue to do so as further calls are made.
Among the first calls to be published is a £30 million package of business support for SMEs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and another valued at £24 million for the provision of high quality workspace.
Another call is for a £1.5 million project aimed at helping people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to access education and improve their skills, in line with what local businesses need. And there is a £25 million call for sustainable transport improvements.
Responses to these calls will be evaluated and contracts awarded by Government in the coming months. This means it is unlikely that projects will get underway until later this year. This is frustrating because there will be gaps in the provision of things like business support activity and funding for business while these new contracts are tendered and let.
During this period the LEP will do what it can to help, so from June we will provide a signposting service to direct businesses to potential sources of support and advice while we commission a longer term solution through our own Growth Hub.
Growth Hubs are a Government-backed initiative that will create a single point of contact for business support, managing, co-ordinating and simplifying whats on offer locally and nationally.
Our Growth Hub will be the subject of a separate call, and should be on stream early next year, by which time there will be a number of EU-funded projects for business up and running. One of our priorities will be ensuring that businesses are aware of whats on offer and how to access support, and the Growth Hub will play a vital role in that.
To keep up to date with the various EU calls please click on the banner on our home page.
In other news we have seen further positive developments in relation to road and rail infrastructure, which have been a key focus for the LEP over the last year while we seek to address barriers to growth.
Preparatory work is now underway on the A30 at Temple, with dualling of the 5km stretch due to start in earnest in June and take 22 months to complete. And public consultation has started on plans to dual the section from Carland Cross to Chiverton by 2021, which is great news.
Elsewhere a number of other infrastructure schemes will be getting underway as part of the £60 million Growth Deal we have secured from the Local Growth Fund, which with other private and public investment will be worth around £210 million in the coming years.
You might have noticed clearing work already starting at the Carkeel roundabout at Saltash which will increase capacity at the junction, reduce journey times and support the delivery of 1,000 homes and 1,300 jobs locally.
In Newquay, the Rialton Link is nearing completion and forms the first section of the Newquay Strategic Route. This will provide capacity for the Aerohub Enterprise Zone and new business park at Newquay Airport, and service the Duchy of Cornwalls 4,000-home Nansledan urban extension which aims to create the same number of jobs over the next 40 to 50 years.
Other schemes are planned for Falmouth, Truro and Bodmin and there is significant investment earmarked for improved bus and rail services, with new main line signalling to increase train frequency, a train care centre in Penzance and an upgrade to the Night Riviera Sleeper service which is already underway. You can find out more detail on all these projects here.
And of course we have had the announcement that we are to benefit from new trains via a franchise agreement between Government and First Great Western, including hybrid diesel-electric Hitachi engines that will have the necessary oomph too cope with our steep gradients. FirstGroup is promising to double the number of trains into and out of Cornwall, so all in all an excellent package of investment that will give us a railway fit for the 21st Century.
This will also benefit the Isles of Scilly, with faster more frequent services to Penzance. Combined with upgrades to the quays at Penzance and St Marys for which we lobbied hard, the LEPs £1 million investment in St Marys Airport, and the hardened runways at Lands End Airport, transport resilience to the islands is being significantly enhanced.
With many important projects getting underway, it is also worth reflecting on what we have achieved with the other funding we have secured.
In the last three years the LEP has successfully bid for and overseen almost £19 million of investment through the Governments Regional Growth Fund and the Growing Places Fund.
This has directly supported some 140 local businesses and is on track to create 3,100 jobs and safeguard 3,500 more by the time the funds are spent at the end of March next year. In total we estimate that around £90 million of additional public and private investment has been leveraged by that original £19 million of funding, which is a terrific achievement.
In the same period the Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Newquay Airport has created more than 200 jobs and the airport is worth some £48 million annually to our local economy, with more than 600 jobs now on site in total.
The £6.2 million enabling works for the Aerohub business park are on course to be completed this autumn, with negotiations already underway with three companies interested in moving to the site, all of which is good news for our aerospace sector.
And talking of space, the Government has confirmed that Newquay remains on a shortlist of locations to host a potential Spaceport and is now working up a detailed technical specification of what a spaceport would require before inviting any bids from potential locations. We will need to understand fully what those specifications are before any decision is made on how to move forward.
In the meantime, research is being commissioned into the economic potential for the growth of the space and satellite industries in Cornwall, focusing on key assets like Goonhilly Earth Station and Aerohub. This is a key strand of the LEPs Future Economy strategy and will help inform ongoing activity in this sector.
Food and farming is also a key area and I am pleased to report that we are now inviting expressions of interest for a potential site for Cornwalls first ever Food Enterprise Zone, which would be one of just 11 similar zones in England. At its heart would be a simplified planning regime to allow food and farming businesses to accelerate growth and job creation, but we want to look at how we might use EU funding to make it much more.
You will find full details here, and help is available in filling out the expression of interest form, the deadline for which is 30 April.
I would also like to introduce a new member of the LEP team, Matt Silver, who has joined us as Business and Stakeholder Relationship Manager. Matt, who is from St Ives, has held a variety of roles in the private sector and was most recently with the EU Convergence Programme communications team. We hope Matt will quickly become a familiar face to the local business community and his door is always open. You can contact him via the LEP office or email
This will be my last blog until we have a new Government after the 7 May general election. Because LEPs are publicly-funded we are covered by what is called purdah. This limits publicity activities from the dissolution of Parliament until the formation of a new Government.
Our work will of course continue during this period, and our office remains open as normal.