LEPs and The British Chambers of Commerce
By Kent Invicta Chamber Chief Executive Jo James.
The government recently announced that the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will be playing a key role in the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) across the UK. The role will be leading a national network coordinating business engagement within the LEP operation.
The network will help to ensure that businesses are the heart and soul of the LEPs, providing a forum for local business leaders to share ideas, solve problems and get the latest data they need to promote economic growth across the country.
I know there are many different views about the appointment of the BCC to lead the network, but I see it as a very positive step forward for business.
It is essential that business should be intimately involved with the LEP programme, and the influence of the business community is paramount if the partnerships are to adequately reflect the needs of commerce and industry.
In order for this to be so, the various business voices to be heard must be properly coordinated, and this is the role that BCC will fulfil. I suppose it is arguable that who fulfils that role is irrelevant, but it must be done to ensure cohesion.
I believe that there is no better person than David Frost, Director General of BCC, who will Chair the LEP Business Network, to lead an operation with this remit. British Chambers of Commerce, and David himself, have a wealth of experience in, and a depth of knowledge of, the national independent business community which is probably second to none, coupled with an existing network that covers the entire range of British business.
The government has expressed a strong desire to ensure that the LEPs are driven by business needs and that the business community is adequately represented and influential. I think that the selection of the BCC to coordinate the LEP business network shows that they are serious in this intention, and we should all be supportive of the BCC in this role.
If the LEPs are to be a success, and if they are to properly reflect our needs, we must all speak with one voice. Dissention among ourselves, with various vested interests pulling in different directions, would be destructive to the partnerships and counter-productive to the economic growth which we all desire.
David Frost has said “Our priority is to listen to local business leaders – this is their network”.
I think we are in good hands.