Having thought long and hard about this very topical issue I think the LEPS have a great opportunity to make a difference to the economy going forward. However, I am getting bit tired of hearing “they have no money and no powers, so what are they going to do?” Well the reality is they are here and likely to stay around for some time. The big opportunity is……to set the agenda and drive new ideas forward with determined ambition and passion. In my view scarcity of resources is the mother of innovation, so given there is no cash, this should drive new models and ways of doing things. I think its fair to say that in the past so much public sector funding has gone into programmes and initiatives, with much of it adding very little value. In certain parts of the Country I have seen literally millions of pounds spent on putting together activities with absolutely no thought given to sustainability or legacy. Once the public sector funding has been withdrawn everything implodes and the assets created just fall away. Every public sector funded initiative of scale should have a legacy and sustainability strategy initiated from day one of it starting, pointless 2-3 years down the line because it’s too late. This is something LEPS need to get on their agenda!
The new LEPS have the opportunity to deliver a game changing experience for local economies, this will only happen if they are have both thinkers and doers leading and managing them. I just hope there is a balance of entrepreneurial flair with disciplined (strategic and policy) thinking. What concerns me is that the latter will dominate the agenda and guess what? We will get the same as we have always got. I am still getting over a strategy and policy session I attended several weeks ago that can only be described as useless drivel and non-sense. As far as I am concerned the thinking, policy and strategy should have been done when the bids for LEP status went in. If we know the priorities then get on and do it – if the till is empty then work out how you are going to fill it. That’s the reality of the world, many businesses start with the entrepreneurs not having a pot to pee in – however, they get on with it and throw innovation and creativity at their challenges and not the bottom less pot of cash that often makes little difference.