Future Of The LEP*
This is an important post, from Mayor James Palmer of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
In fact, I’d say it is vital.
It is patently clear to anybody who looks that the LEP in Cambridgeshire has utterly lost its way. It has lost the confidence of MPs, Councillors and local people and it would appear that it has also lost the confidence of Government.
As a personal viewpoint, I think it was an ill-fated scheme from the start. Putting a broadly unelected and mostly unaccountable body in charge of such huge chunks of public funding was never going to end well. Business folk are very good at looking at the bottom line, but Government is not just about bottom lines. It’s also about places, communities and people. It’s about ambition and dreams and the glue that holds us together.
Having an eye on the money is all well and good, but there’s nothing visionary about judging everything by a simplistic cost benefit ratio. Primarily because you can fudge the figures to say what you want them to say, sometimes accidentally as a form of confirmation bias. “We’d love to do this, but the business case doesn’t stack up” can be translated into: “Our friendly economist looked at this through the lens we selected, and saw the image we expected them to see.”
I hope the LEP is bundled into the Combined Authority. I think that’s the perfect place for them, where they can offer business input into political decisions, but where those decisions are ultimately made by elected people. That’s how a democratic system works best.
* LEP = Local Enterprise Partnership