There will be a powerpoint presentation for this item.
The Commission considered a presentation from the Chief Executive of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) which provided an overview of the content of the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS). A copy of the slides forming the presentation is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion and questions, the following points were raised:-
(i) The LLEP had received £200,000 capacity funding from the Government to develop the LIS. Funding for implementation would come from local stakeholders and it was intended that the actions arising from the LIS would be aligned with existing funding streams, particularly where local partners were also able to bid for national funding. There was no certainty surrounding the availability of specific funding from the Government for implementing the LIS.
(ii) Once the draft LIS had been submitted to the Government, the LLEP would need to have individual conversations with the relevant Government departments. A further draft of the LIS would be co-authored with the Government over the next few months. The Commission could receive a further report once the co-authored draft had been finalised. The final version of the LIS would have a performance framework so that outcomes could be measured.
(iii) The Commission supported the LIS and the policy areas that had been chosen for it to focus on. In terms of infrastructure, it was suggested that consideration be given to arrangements for charging electric vehicles in residential areas, particularly terraced streets with on-street parking. The importance of digital connectivity was also emphasised, including in new developments. This was an area which the LLEP would highlight with the Government.
(iv) A member expressed concern regarding the focus on sport. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the industry was already overloaded and that Sports Science graduates were finding it difficult to gain employment. However, the Commission was assured that the inclusion of this strand within the LIS was intended to be promotional and to raise the profile of the work done by Loughborough University and the new SportPark.
(v) It was felt that the LIS needed to make a case to the Government to improving further education in Leicester and Leicestershire. It was acknowledged that graduate retention had always been a problem in the area and that the LIS needed to give graduates a reason to stay. Take up of apprenticeships was also poor and it would be important to both support small businesses but also to encourage parents and young people to see this as a career path.
(vi) It was confirmed that the LIS would highlight the need to improve road and rail connectivity as a key priority. Members were pleased to note that the Chief Executive of the LLEP was meeting with the chairman of the campaign to re-open the Leicester to Burton railway line. However, there were also concerns regarding a lack of public transport to enable people to get to work at areas such as the East Midlands Gateway. It was confirmed that the Development Corporation for the Gateway would address this specific issue and had received set-up funding. Member suggested that the LIS should also highlight the need for investment in cycleways, particularly in rural areas.
(vii) Members asked to see evidence that population growth in Leicester and Leicestershire was slowing and queried where Leicestershire ranked in terms of deprivation. Officers undertook to provide the evidence that had been requested and advised that there were pockets of deprivation in Leicestershire. Programmes would be designed to address these.
(viii) It was noted that the Energy Infrastructure Strategy for Coventry and Warwickshire had highlighted concerns that in future the energy supply might be insufficient. The Leicestershire Strategy highlighted similar issues and for areas such as East Midlands Airport where major growth was expected, discussions were taking place with Western Power to ensure that the energy supply was available before development took place.
(ix) Some concern was raised regarding the number of warehouses in parts of the county and the fact that these tended to offer lower value employment. It was acknowledged that increased use of robotics was changing the skill-mix required in the industry; however, it was suggested that the LLEP should lobby the government to provide incentives for attracting knowledge-based businesses into the area.
(a) That the LLEP be requested to take the Commission’s comments into account when revising the Local Industrial Strategy;
(b) That a further report on the Local Industrial Strategy be submitted to the Commission in due course.