15 July 2010

The growth agenda and imposed housing targets in Northamptonshire have been scrapped and new ways of boosting local businesses and managing infrastructure and planning are needed for the area – that was the clear message today from leader of Northamptonshire County Council Cllr Jim Harker.

Speaking at a full council meeting today (THURS) Cllr Harker said the intention to build hundreds of thousands of new houses in the region under the previous government’s MKSM plans has now been abandoned and new ways of working are to be established to replace the Regional Development Agencies set up by the previous government.

The government has announced that Local Enterprise Partnerships – groups of local authorities and businesses - would replace these agencies, bringing strategic government closer to the people and will become key in delivering economic growth by working closer with business to help local economies recover from recession quicker.

Cllr Harker was the first council leader to meet with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles about these new bodies. Following this meeting he announced today that the council is proposing a new Local Enterprise Partnership looking to join forces with Leicestershire and other potentially interested partners to drive the wider area forward.

Cllr Harker said: “What is clear is that the growth agenda with its thousands of new homes in the county is now a thing of the past. What is also clear is that we will be expected to set up more local partnerships with our neighbouring counties to plan the future.

“This is a golden opportunity for us to now drive forward new arrangements working at a more local level to reduce bureaucracy and creating new ways to boost the local economy and enterprise of the area.

“I am delighted that Northamptonshire with Leicestershire were the first authorities to have discussions with Eric Pickles about Local Enterprise Partnerships, and I am equally delighted that already we have made real progress in this area. We are working with Leicestershire and hopefully with others on proposals which would see a partnership set up of leading business figures and the public sector to drive investment, planning, infrastructure, skills and employment in our counties.

“We are also already talking to other potentially interested partners to join this Local Enterprise Partnership and look forward to submitting our proposals to government in the coming weeks.”