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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 includes ten 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.

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HEAR LORD HESELTINE'S VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF CORNWALL'S ECONOMY

A word from Chris Pomfret, Chairman

July 2014

When I last wrote, the LEP was deep in negotiations with Government over its proposed Growth Deal, trying to secure as big a share as we could of the £2 billion pot available nationally, and deep in the throes of a tug-o-war with Whitehall over the management of our next EU programme.

Well as I hope many of you may have heard, we have emerged with an excellent deal for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, confirmed in person by the Deputy Prime Minister during a flying visit to Cornwall last week.

Our deal includes almost £49 million from central Government, most of which will be invested over the next two years, attracting an additional £150 million of public and private investment, giving us a package of almost £200 million.

Most of the money coming from Government, around £40 million, is new to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and compares favourably with most other LEPs in the region when it comes to investment per head.

Perhaps even more importantly, we have secured control over how some £520m of additional EU investment will be spent in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from now until 2020. This followed a concerted campaign led by Cornwall Council, local business leaders and all our MPs, with support from the LEP, to ensure that we retained control over our own programme in the face of a very real threat that it would be controlled from Whitehall.

What we have negotiated is something called an Integrated Territorial Investment, and while the name won't win any prizes from the Plain English Campaign, what it means is even greater control over not just over our own EU programme but other sources of Government and local funding as well.

The shorthand is that we have a single investment programme, with money from various sources being channelled via the LEP into projects that create jobs and growth in line with our agreed economic strategy. It's a great leap forward in the call for more devolved power.

And the good thing about a deal is that both parties are signed up to it, in this case the LEP and Government, and both of us must deliver on our side of the bargain.

The majority of our first Growth Deal investment will be spent on transport-related projects such as road schemes that can unlock sites for development and take the risk out of future investment, and improvements to public transport including buses and trains. We chose things that we knew might be hard to fund using EU money because of strict rules over how it is spent. And we also chose projects that give us a foundation we can build on.

One of those foundations is skills, which is why I am particularly proud that the LEP has secured a commitment through the Growth Deal for Government to work with us on getting our schools more engaged with local businesses. We can't spend EU money on skills for children aged under 15, so this is a gap that we can now fill. We will be working with Government to look at implementing a programme of Enterprise Advisers to work across schools and business to help young people achieve their potential.

The Growth Deal will therefore help tackle two of the biggest issues that businesses raise with me almost daily, namely transport and skills.

As well as the investment we have secured, the Growth Deal also includes a commitment from Government to help develop some of the sectors we have identified as important to the future economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

This includes funding for a growth hub for business support, commitments from different Government departments to work with us on developing marine energy, deep geothermal projects, localised electricity networks and smart grids, and expert advice on the LEP's wider ambitions to develop the space and aerospace industries.

We will also be looking at a long term solution to aging water and sewerage infrastructure on the Isles of Scilly, which is a critical barrier to economic growth. You can read the actual Growth Deal document here.

With the Growth Deal now secure, including control over the EU programme, we now have a much clearer idea of what we are able to do. And this means we can gear up to ensure that local decision making remains both transparent and accountable.

With that in mind we will in the coming months establish a series of business-led working groups to help the LEP shape the detail of some of the investments we want to make in the future. We've done the broad brush work, now we need to start filling in the voids. We will be publishing more on that soon.

We will of course need to be mindful of potential conflicts of interest. But it is vital that businesses from different sectors, and the public and voluntary sectors, are involved as projects begin to take shape so that we know we are investing in the things that are going to create jobs and lift skills, wages and ultimately living standards in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Some of these groups are already established of course, but others will need to be set up now that we know we have a single investment plan with which we can be more creative. Having the ability to draw together different strands of funding from the EU and national pots is something new and exciting for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It means we don't have to operate within the traditional funding silos but can put together packages of investment.

Between now and the autumn we have to devise our single investment programme and get it signed off by the Government and the EU, so the reality, as I have said before, is that we will not start to draw down funds until next year. That is frustrating but is not a timetable of our making.

At the same time we will also start work on our next Growth Deal, where we will be bidding to supplement our single investment programme as we strive to deliver more than £1 billion of investment into Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2020.

In closing I would like to extend the warm thanks of the LEP to all those businesses, MPs, individuals and organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors who supported calls for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to retain control of EU funds. Together, as one and all, we have achieved a fantastic result.

Chris Pomfret