Humber LEP chairman hails achievements of first year

The chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) today acknowledged the strides made by the organisation in its first year and called for continued cohesive action to help build the Humber into the UK’s ‘Energy Estuary’.

Lord Haskins was speaking a year since the board of directors was formally appointed, with the LEP revealing an impressive list of achievements as part of an annual review which is published today (Wednesday, January 23).

He said: “In our first year we have really started to build up a head of steam. We have helped secure the largest Enterprise Zone in the country along with £65m of Regional Growth Funding. We have also helped secure a reduction in Humber Bridge tolls and received national recognition for our renewable energy potential.

“This momentum will now be carried forward through the delivery of our five year plan along with our work on Lord Heseltine’s pathfinder proposal for new pioneering ways of economic development and the application for City Deal status which would see powers devolved to the region.

“The progress made so far is a result of businesses, councils and education working together to achieve common goals. We must continue to develop those close bonds for the Humber to reach its potential.”

The LEP has been directly responsible for creating the largest Enterprise Zone in the country, giving investors access to a simplified planning process to significantly speed up construction, as well as enhanced capital allowances and property tax breaks.

The LEP has also secured £30m cash from the Regional Growth Fund and supported successful bids worth £35m, which will help create jobs and growth in the region. Its work also led to the area being designated as a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering in HM Treasury’s National Infrastructure Plan and backed the campaign for the reduction of Humber Bridge tolls.

Lord Haskins is the former chairman of Northern Foods and chairman of the LEP. He leads its 14-strong board of directors made up of political and business leaders from across the region.

He said: “Our partnership began with a clear focus – on realising the potential of the Humber.

“We have been operating for over a year now and by working with partners, we have firmly established the Humber LEP as a major force in setting the agenda for success in the region and driving it on towards economic prosperity.

“The Humber is now more focused and more determined. We have shared opportunities for growth and the knowledge that, by working together as one team, we can create a stronger, more prosperous economic future.”

Formed in June 2011, the Humber LEP was one of only 18 nationally to be awarded the entirety of the Start Up Fund which it bid for – this cash was only secured because of the support and financial contributions made by local businesses.

The LEP has developed a five-year growth plan, lobbied against the proposed static caravan tax increase and, together with the local authorities, was invited by the Government to submit a bid for a City Deal – which would see funding and decision-making devolved locally.

Lord Haskins said: “The role of the LEP is two-fold. On one hand we are here to secure inward investment – we are leading the efforts to get large, multi-national firms to set up in the region.

“But secondly, and no less important, is the active role we have to support business and industry in the region through difficult times. This has included work on job losses at BAE Systems and lobbying hard against the proposed tax increase on static caravans.”

The LEP has also launched a major piece of work based on understanding the skills needs of the Humber economy in a move to create a strong, well trained and sustainable workforce which will be able to meet the needs of current and future employers.

The LEP’s Skills Commission, chaired by former college principal Nic Dakin MP, will create a blueprint for how schools, colleges, private training providers and universities can help to provide the workforce businesses need to aid the region’s recovery.

Lord Haskins said: “Previous to the Humber Bridge, the areas were not connected, but that has changed now and certainly since the tolls have been decreased the ease of working together has increased.

“We need a co-ordinated approach to build a viable future for everyone around what is our greatest asset, the Humber Estuary.”