LEP approves measures to become 'most transparent Enterprise Partnership' in the country

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board has today approved new measures that put it well ahead of government best practice guidance on local enterprise partnership transparency and accountability.

Following a review by the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority – the body that is accountable for all spending decisions made by the LEP and ensures all taxpayer investment is overseen by local elected politicians – begun last summer, the LEP Board has agreed a new constitution that takes on board all of the recommendations of the influential Ney Review into local enterprise partnership governance and transparency, published in October 2017.

Over the past six months the LEP has already made numerous changes to its governance processes to ensure its decision-making is as open and transparent as possible. This includes holding all meetings in public, publishing reports and minutes from its meetings on the Combined Authority website, and publishing details of grants awarded to businesses in Leeds City Region.

As a result of the measures adopted today, LEP Board members will be subject to a new code of conduct that goes much further than the national best practice guidance in including safeguards around applications for grants or loans, contracting for work or services and canvassing for appointments. The remuneration of the LEP Chair, and any expenses for Board members undertaking duties on behalf of the LEP, will be reported every year at public meetings of the LEP Board.

The Board also considered a proposed refresh of its local assurance framework, which ensures there are robust processes in place around the way funding decisions are made by the LEP and the Combined Authority as its accountable body.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said:

“We have always recognised the importance of public accountability which is why we were already ahead of other local enterprise partnerships in terms of best practice and I am pleased we have now agreed to go even further.

“As the LEP responsible for £1.2 billion of taxpayer investment through the country’s largest Growth Deal, it is only right that we should be the most transparent local enterprise partnership in the country as well.

“I am delighted that, less than three months after the publication of the Ney report, we are not just fully in line with all of the best practice guidance government has set out, but are in many ways exceeding it, leading the way for local enterprise partnerships nationally.”

The changes to LEP governance were made as part of a 12-month modernisation programme by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to ensure it has the right processes and systems in place to deliver the significant new funding available through the £1.2 billion Leeds City Region Growth Deal and £1 billion West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund.

Other changes include bringing together employees from the former passenger transport body, Metro, the inward investment agency, Leeds and Partners, and the regional policy team of Leeds City Council into a single, efficient organisation, alongside improvements to procurement, governance and technology.

Ben Still, Managing Director of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:

“Over the past 12 months and more, we have been working hard to ensure our organisation is fully up to the task of overseeing over £2 billion of taxpayer investment in new roads, rail stations, college facilities, regeneration projects, apprenticeships and support for business growth.

“The measures approved by the LEP Board today, and the fact that they go well above and beyond government recommendations, is another sign of our commitment to ensuring our organisation is transparent, open and accessible to the people of West Yorkshire and Leeds City Region.

“There are still further improvements we need to make as a relatively new organisation, learning from the past and guided by the helpful work of our Overview and Scrutiny committee, but I’m really pleased with our progress so far and proud of the difference we are making to our region’s economy.”

For information about the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, visit: www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk