Mayor James Palmer effectively declares a vote of no confidence in local enterprise partnership (LEP)

Mayor James Palmer

Mayor James Palmer - Credit: Archant

Mayor James Palmer has effectively declared a vote of no confidence in the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

He said it was clear the LEP “is no longer able to fulfil the purpose for which it was established”.

It was no longer able to provide the help and financial support needed for local businesses “and furthermore the current position is creating reputational damage. It will inhibit the ability of the area as a whole to attract inward investment at a time when we face such a huge deficit in our infrastructure”.

Mayor Palmer’s comments came on the back of a revelation that the Government is withholding growth funding secured for the area whilst the National Audit Office undertakes an investigation into the LEP.

A number of agencies – including the audit office and the public accounts committee- are examining dossiers sent to them by MP Steve Barclay questioning openness, transparency, governance and awarding of multi million pound contracts.

Mayor Palmer has made his remarks in an open letter to the LEP that has also been copied into Jake Berry, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government. He says the letter has the full support of his colleagues and the cabinet of the combined authority.

The letter, which offers support to the LEP, goes on to say: “It is important that we provide leadership and act urgently and decisively to restore trust, including that of the wider business community and central Government”.

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His solution, he’s told the board of the LEP, is “to work with you to create a new model of local governance that will have at its centre a really powerful relationship between business and local democratic leadership.

“This will enable Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to deliver the substantial dividends it is capable of achieving.”

Mayor Palmer said of the letter that it offered the LEP an outline offer of support and assistance to overhaul the current set-up.

“We very much hope they accept our proposal and that we can work together to find a way through this unfortunate situation,” he said.

Robin Howe, deputy mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority added: “There is a need for us to act urgently on this matter and ensure that the hard work and significant progress that has been made this year is not thrown off course.”

A LEP spokesman said: “The GCGP LEP has been working on plans to clearly set out how

we can effectively work with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which covers 50 per cent of its area, for some time now.

“As always, we welcome the opportunity for collaborative working with a focus on delivering

economic growth across the entirety of our patch. We successfully work with our neighbouring LEPs on projects that deliver outstanding results, such as our Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the East of England Science and Innovation Audit.

“Following the receipt of a letter from James Palmer, we are taking the time to carefully review the letter, and its proposals, in the light of the National Assurance Framework for LEPs, our wider governance and Articles of Association, and strategic plans, and will respond in due course.”