LEP Column: LEP proof that the public and private marriage works

Under the Humber Bridge, Hull. Picture by Simon Hulme
Under the Humber Bridge, Hull. Picture by Simon Hulme
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The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is proof that the marriage between the public sector and businesses on both banks of the Estuary works.

We came together with the clear focus of realising the potential of the Humber in terms of providing leadership and a pan-Humber strategic approach to economic growth, which drew on our shared opportunities, knowledge and expertise.

Four years since our formation, this collaborative approach has established firm foundations on which we are building a more buoyant and confident economy with the Humber ready to take its place in the emerging Northern Powerhouse.

The Humber’s geography shaped our vision to establish the Humber as the UK’s Energy Estuary. It’s a gateway to European markets and the North Sea, accessible to major UK conurbations, has deep water ports and quaysides on both banks with available development land, making the region the ideal location for the growing renewable energy sector and its supply chain.

To achieve this we needed to get the infrastructure right. Successful negotiations with Government resulted in all four Humber authorities benefitting from £113m funding for major projects through the Local Growth Fund.

These ranged from over £13m for flood defence work enabling the 6000 homes Lincolnshire Lakes development to progress near Scunthorpe; £4m for an enhanced footbridge over the A63 connecting Hull’s waterfront and the city centre which unlocks the potential of the city’s historic fruit market; £1.48m will go towards junction improvements in Grimsby to help open up development at Cartergate for high quality mixed use development to £8.5m for housing in Brough.

The benefit to the Partnership is more than just Government investment. Its funding levered in a further £270m from other sources and in the long term, is expected to create at least 7,200 jobs as improved infrastructure contributes to the Humber becoming a better place to invest, live, work and visit.

There was more good news for the region’s infrastructure in last week’s Budget when Government gave a firm commitment to electrify the rail line between Hull and Selby. Additionally, Humberside airport is expanding its facilities and operations – a direct result of developing the Energy Estuary.

Last week’s Budget added a further ten acres to what was already the biggest Enterprise Zone in the UK. Creating the right conditions for businesses to succeed and a long-term strategic economic plan are key components to attract investment.

Having a clear and sustainable pan-Humber strategic partnership is playing an important role influencing blue chip global companies such as Siemens to locate at Green Port Hull and Able UK on the South Bank. For the Humber Enterprise Zone as a whole, we have currently more than £822.5m investment planned and 5,850 jobs are expected.

Like all marriages, our partnership faced its challenges too. ‘Red tape’ threatened to slow the pace of development as all the different partners in the marriage had their local systems and regulations.

Thanks to the Hull and Humber City Deal, we’re part of a Government pilot for a ‘single conversation’, which sees the Humber LEP and its local authority partners working with agencies to ensure a smoother and faster planning process for major developments around the Estuary, progress which has been widely welcomed by businesses locally.

To realise our vision of creating the Energy Estuary our workforce requires new and improved skills training to meet business needs.

Tackling the skills deficit, caused in part by an aging workforce and a reluctance to invest in training, has also benefited from our cross-Humber approach.

Working with employers, education and training providers, we are securing resources for capital projects and developing labour market information and support services.

The recent Growth Deal awarded funding to Goole College and HFC CATCH to expand facilities and provision, as well as £7m to Grimsby institute for a purpose-built logistics training hub. Furthermore, towards the end of last year we heard that our case for Humber to be home to the UK’s first National College for Wind Energy had been successful.

Partnership works. The fact that the Humber is now recognised as the UK’s Energy Estuary is largely due to the strength of having Pan-Humber partnership.

As we prepare for a new Government, I look forward to our Humber partnership continuing and building on the momentum built to drive our continued economic growth.

A long-term vision for economy

The Humber is recognised as the UK’s Energy Estuary, and the Humber LEP has a long-term vision to grow a prosperous local economy.

We are creating an infrastructure that supports growth, supporting businesses to succeed and ensuring that we have a skilled and productive workforce.

Through the strength of our partnership between businesses, local councils, education, training providers and local communities Humber-wide, we are negotiating significant investment from Government and creating the right conditions for businesses to be confident about investing here.