Editor’s blog: Stripping the assets

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Lord Heseltine was in the south west today to encourage local businesses and entrepreneurs to bid for cash from the Government’s recently announced £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund forms part of the Government’s Local Growth White Paper, which was published last month,  further fleshing out its plans for the Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Lord Heseltine said: “I’m delighted to be here in the south west as an advocate for this important Fund.

“The Government is putting local people at the heart of decision-making, empowering them to develop their own vision for long-term local growth and allowing them to make important and innovative decisions that impact on their communities.”

“The Regional Growth Fund presents an opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs in the south west to help shape their own economic future. I hope today’s road show will inspire local people to think strategically about their area’s priorities and I encourage them to come forward with compelling funding proposals that promise to deliver a positive change to the local economy; bringing new jobs and benefits to local people.”

There are fears that the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP could end up being no more than a “local talking shop”

All well and good. But going back to the LEPs, of which one will be for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as revealed in the White Paper, they will not receive any direct Government contribution towards their running costs, but instead will have to jostle for a piece of the Regional Growth Fund pie.

This is leading to fears that the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP could end up being no more than a “local talking shop”. The outgoing South West RDA holds a number of valuable assets in Cornwall, including the Wave Hub project, Tolvaddon Energy Park, Bickland Industrial Estate and the Incubation/Medi Park at Treliske.

But it remains unclear where the ownership will lie once the South West RDA has been closed down.You would have thought that if the LEP is to replace the RDA, it should then have the benefit of its assets in order to succeed.

But this might not be the case. Commentators fear that rather than being handed over to the unfunded LEP, these assets could be sold off as part of a Government ‘fire sale’ to pump much-needed cash into Treasury coffers.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to think that the ex RDA assets are offered to the open market for sale. They were bought with taxpayers money and a sale would get a return back to the Treasury. Where assets are for the public good then Cornwall Council may be ‘given’ the assets but where does public good start and finish, how this is decided will indicate how far the Coalition is committed to a private sector led recovery. As for assets for the LEP it seems that if ths is to work the LEP can help to prioritise the spending of the Council where it used for economic growth, but first the LEP has to be formed that truely allows private sector practises to flourish, we aren’t there yet.

  2. An interesting blog where you right seem to have touched on genuine concerns, I would simply add 2 thoughts:

    1. The problem is not just money but credibility, the LEP has to be genuinely representative of Cornish business and the Cornish community if it is to be a success. It has to be more that the ‘usual suspects’!
    2. I do not believe the LEPs will have the capability to control any of the operations now overseen by the SWRDA, surely this is a strategic body, the operational stuff will have to sit elsewhere.

  3. Why would the government contribute to the LEP’s running costs? Why in fact would the LEP have running costs? So it can become a wallowing bureaucracy like the RDA?
    Partners in the LEP can allocate whatever resources they feel necessary for the LEP to achieve its aims.
    With regard to future ownership of RDA assets. The value of any asset is a function of the revenue it generates. With that in mind, what are Tolvaddon or the Wave Hub worth? Do I need to spell it out?

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