Due to a change in Government policy, Chesterfield Borough Council is set to relinquish its membership of the Sheffield City Region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) from April next year.
Chesterfield is currently a member of both the SCR LEP and Derby Derbyshire Nottingham Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP.
However, the Government now requires that, from April 2020, all councils be represented by one LEP. Those councils that have membership of more than one LEP have been asked to choose to be a member of just one, or face losing future funding.
As a result Chesterfield Borough Council, which is part of Derbyshire, has now announced it intends to remain in D2N2.
James Muir, chair of the SCR LEP, said: “Businesses do not operate with convenient administrative boundaries, but face in many directions for supply chains, for customers and for business relationships.
“That’s why the LEP has consistently stood against this new policy, and it is disappointing that Government has been unwilling to amend its position.
“Chesterfield has benefited hugely from being part of the SCR LEP, with millions in Local Growth Funding (LGF) enabling key projects such as the Waterside and Northern Gateway regeneration schemes. It is therefore regrettable that the council has been forced to make this difficult decision, after being an integral part of the LEP and of the Sheffield City Region for a decade.”
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “This imposition of simplistic requirements on complex economic boundaries is fundamentally flawed, and not in the best interests of our businesses, our councils and our communities.
“Businesses work across boundaries and, as vehicles to support economic and productivity growth, LEPs need to respond to local economic needs.
“The SCR’s overlapping geography with both Leeds City Region and D2N2 has previously fostered strong partnerships, producing innovation on shared priorities such as our successful Growth Hubs, and also enabling wider collaboration across the Northern Powerhouse.”
At present, the members of the Sheffield City Region LEP are Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, North East Derbyshire, Bassetlaw and Bolsover councils.
From April 2020, the four South Yorkshire councils will remain in the Sheffield City Region LEP.
Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “This is a decision that I neither take lightly nor is it a decision that I believe is necessary. But there is no option if we are to comply with the Government’s requirement for Chesterfield’s businesses and communities to in future be represented by a single LEP.
“Chesterfield’s businesses and communities have benefitted greatly from the Council being a member of both D2N2 LEP and SCR LEP since 2013 with £60 million plus of external funds having been secured for investment in infrastructure, business growth, skills and employment support.
“We would like this position to continue, however, Whitehall appears determined not to allow the geographies of two LEPs to overlap.
“Whilst our LEP membership will remain with D2N2, Chesterfield Borough Council will continue to maintain an active interest in SCR through its non-constituent membership of the Mayoral Combined Authority.
“This is viewed as essential to ensure the future alignment of D2N2’s and SCR’s key strategies on critical cross-boundary matters such as HS2 and strategic road networks.”