Business partnership to be wound up as funding cut

A PUBLIC-private sector business partnership is to be wound up after four local authorities pulled the plug on its funding.

The Humber Economic Partnership (HEP), which was responsible for promoting and co-ordinating the area's economic development, will close its doors next March.

The organisation is made up of representatives of the private sector, University of Hull, Yorkshire Forward and the four Humber councils.

One source said: "I don't think its passing will be noticed by the man in the street. This has been in the pipeline for quite a while. Government hasn't told councils to do this. Councils have unilaterally decided to do this."

Another said they had "failed miserably" to agree on a forerunner to local enterprise partnerships, adding: "The business people who were on the board didn't have a particularly enjoyable experience what with a bunch of councillors not agreeing with each other."

Board member Coun Geoff Lowis, from North East Lincolnshire Council, said: "I think its time had come. The kind of cross- Humber sub-regional working has gone along with the regional development agencies. It really couldn't justify its existence – city regions are taking over.

"It was as much a research organisation, information gathering and strategic, working at a higher level, which perhaps people didn't appreciate."

HEP chairman Charles Lewis was not available for comment yesterday, but a statement recounted the organisation's successes, including becoming "regarded as a leading authority in the area for research, intelligence and evidence" as well as running the annual Business Week, which attracted more than 15,000 delegates this year.

It added that the event would go ahead next June as usual, adding: "The success which HEP has achieved over the years is a tribute to those many people who have worked for HEP, or Humber Forum, in the last 18 years, and we are working with our current executive team to support them as they face redundancy."