Wellingborough Council looking to join SEMLEP group to help open up funding opportunities

Councillors are to discuss signing up to an organisation which they hope will open up more funding opportunities and benefit people in the borough.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st February 2016, 3:20 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2016, 3:25 pm
The meeting is being held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough
The meeting is being held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough

Wellingborough Council is considering paying to become a member of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) were set up in 2010 in relation to economic development and growth.

There were 24 LEPs in the first wave, including SEMLEP covering parts of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

Northamptonshire LEP was then set up in May 2011 in a second wave of LEPs.

At the time the LEPs were established, five out of the seven Northamptonshire district authorities decided to join both SEMLEP and NEP, but Wellingborough and East Northants only joined NEP.

However, East Northants Council recently decided to apply to join SEMLEP and Wellingborough Council’s resources committee will discuss membership at a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).

A report to be considered by councillors states: “In more recent times with the advent of the ‘Devolution Agenda’ it has become apparent that involvement in a larger geographical area may be of benefit.

“It is unlikely that any devolution deal could ever be based on our county by itself.

“There could be benefits in both Wellingborough and East Northants joining the larger LEP area.

“East Northants Council have recently taken a decision to apply to join SEMLEP.

“So, in effect, Wellingborough will be the only ‘NEP only’ district in a county that is now entirely subsumed within the wider SEMLEP area.”

The recommendation for councillors is to seek membership of SEMLEP at an annual cost of £7,000.

The report adds: “NEP has secured significant funding for the borough, for example in relation to Stanton Cross and Tresham College.

“SEMLEP should open up access to other funding opportunities and it is anticipated that the £7,000 will be good value for money.

“In the current climate in relation to ‘devolution deals’ size and scale is significant and being part of a larger ‘club’ of local authority areas is the key positive reason for seeking to develop our relationship with SEMLEP.

“The risk of not making such a move is that we will effectively get left behind.

“Involvement with NEP will remain positive and the removal of some of the overlapping boundary issues is a step forward.

“The Government may even look to rationalise LEP areas in future and again Wellingborough needs to be properly positioned in order not to miss out on opportunities.”

Speaking recently to the Northamptonshire Telegraph, council leader Paul Bell said: “The reason to join is because it will be beneficial to the people of Wellingborough.”

SEMLEP works in collaboration with its local authority and private sector partners and is committed to delivering the strategic infrastructure and skills projects that are essential for economic growth – new jobs and new homes – in the area.

Tomorrow’s meeting starts at 7pm at Swanspool House in Wellingborough.