Merger of £11 million Northants business partnership with regional partner will save ‘some money’

Dr Ann Limb, chair of SEMLEP

Dr Ann Limb, chair of SEMLEP

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A controversial Northamptonshire business partnership organisation, which has cost more than £11 million to run since 2011, is to be merged with a similar organisation that covers the whole of the South Midlands.

The Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) was set up in 2011 and received £2.2 million a year from the county council up to 2013 and then £1.45 million for the past three years.

An independent report published in 2013 concluded the “jury was still out” whether a business office in Brussels that cost £200,000 a year to run, would be a success.

NEP, which has 19 members of staff, has now been merged with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

Steven Catchpole, the chief executive of SEMLEP, said the two organisations would be “fully integrated” by March 2017.

Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton, Mr Catchpole said there had been “some job losses” at NEP but no compulsory redundancies as many staff had taken advantage of a voluntary scheme.

Mr Catchpole said he was the chief executive designate for the newly merged LEP. Jo Lappin, the chief executive of NEP, will stay in her position until the end of September.

He said: “The merger will save some money but that is not our primary purpose. We want to do what is best for the local economy.”

Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, chair of SEMLEP, said the decision to integrate makes “enormous sense” and removes any confusion in the area about which LEP is responsible for certain business activities.