Cambs County Council leader Steve Count adds his voice of criticism of enterprise agency where he is a board member too!

Cllr Steve Count(Con) Picture: Steve Williams.

Cllr Steve Count(Con) Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

The leader of Cambridgeshire County Council has added his voice to criticism of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

In a letter to the chairman of the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, councillor Steve Count sets out a litany of concerns about the LEP’s latest agenda.

He calls for a register of interests for the 14-members of the LEP board to be published online immediately.

The register is meant to help avoid conflicts of interest when the business leaders and council chiefs, who form the LEP board, make decisions about where to spend public money.

Cllr Count, who is on the LEP board, said he had twice in writing and once verbally called for the register to be published.

“Good corporate governance is essential to our LEP and these matters, in my view, call into question our governance,” he wrote to LEP chairman Mark Reeve.

The LEP has said it would publish a register of interests on its website soon.

Cllr Count’s letter to Mr Reeve follows comments made by North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay about potential conflicts of interest at the LEP not being declared.

Mr Reeve’s company Chalcroft Construction is currently building a plant at the Alconbury Weald Enterprise Campus for a Chatteris firm called MMUK.

The campus is the home to the LEP and was partly set up using public money secured by the LEP.

But no conflict of interest appears to have been registered in the LEP board minutes about Alconbury Weald projects.

The LEP said Mr Reeve did not need to register an interest because the scheme his firm was building was a project between two private firms which the LEP was not involved with.

Cllr Count went on to criticise a lack of local council involvement in LEP projects, including the region’s Strategic Economic Plan, Ely North Junction and Agri-Tech.

The LEP board met in private on Tuesday. It publishes minutes from meetings on its website.

A spokesman for the LEP said: “At each board meeting, board members are asked to confirm if they have any conflicts of interest relating to the items on the agenda.

“If any conflicts of interest are declared, they are noted clearly within the minutes and the board member will not participate in the decision making around these items.”

The LEP said it was accountable to Cambridgeshire County Council and the Government.

1 comment

  • I find councillors crying 'governance' with very little other substance to their claims... I was involved with the LEP 2011-2013 and there were many discussions with East Cambridge District and the County's transport team about Ely North Junction - including with councillors and officers. In fact East Cambridgeshire District Council actively promoted and pushed this to the LEPs attention. The Agri-tech programme was actively debated on site at Fenland DC's premises in a workshop organised by Fenland DC - with all the local authorities pitching in ideas. The County Council was the accountable body for the original RGF programme and signed it off. We had letters of support from all local authorities, the university, and prominent agri businesses. I find little substance in the accusations. Perhaps what is more challenging is that local authority budgets have been cut so far, they often lack the economic development officers and expertise now to actively participate and contribute to this agenda. Cambridgeshire County Council itself now has no economic development team, having axed it in 2014. Perhaps Cllr Count could actively propose constructive policies, strategies, delivery ideas to make a difference rather than focus solely on the easier 'governance' issues? it would be very easy to have a register of interests and implement on board decisions - this should be happening.

    Report this comment

    Cam_economist

    Friday, January 20, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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