Yesterday, the government release its industrial strategy white paper, following an extensive consultation period.
Below is the County Councils Network’s response to the announcement:
Cllr Philip Atkins, vice-chairman of the County Councils Network and leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
“An increased focus on place in the Industrial Strategy should be strongly welcomed, as is the government’s recognition that to increase national prosperity, all four corners of the country – counties as well as cities – must be part of the equation.
“Whilst the direction of travel is promising, this strategy could represent a missed opportunity and its aims may fall short in counties because of an over-emphasis on cities. Counties ought to be in the driving seat to lead local industrial strategies, not just Local Enterprise Partnerships, whilst investment appears to be city focused.
“County authorities already work closely with their own LEPs, but we have concerns they are not always the most effective bodies to dynamically lead local industrial strategies: counties contain the size to do business nationally and the intimate knowledge of their economies to grow communities locally, while offering the democratic transparency that LEPs currently cannot.”
“Indeed, a recent County Councils Network survey showed that only one fifth of council leaders believe LEPs are democratically accountable, whilst over half believed they should not lead local strategies. However, we welcome the government’s proposed LEP reform, including reviewing overlapping LEP boundaries. This is hugely important – reducing complexity of overlapping LEP geographies is crucial for business and important for local economies. CCN looks forward to engaging with this review.”
Below, our video outlines how counties should be empowered by the Industrial Strategy.