To receive a presentation from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (copy enclosed).
(Jo Lappin, Chief Executive, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership attended for this item of business).
The Committee received a presentation from the Chief Executive of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP), a company limited by guarantee, which gave an update on their governance, delivery and strategy arrangements. It was explained that CLEP was one of 38 LEPs nationally with the eighth largest geography and third smallest population. It was noted the Board, responsible for strategy, investment co?ordination and advocacy, consisted of 18 members of which 12 were from the private sector and six public sector organisations.
Members were informed that in the medium term their priority was around the Industrial Strategy, a Government framework, which outlined the plans to boost productivity and the earning power of people throughout the UK which was framed around five foundations of productivity and four grand challenges.
The Committee noted the role of the LEP was to develop an evidence-based Local Industrial Strategy that identified local strengths and challenges, future opportunities and the action needed to boost productivity, earning power and competitiveness across the area.
Members noted that part of the development work included the implementation of contingency plans should any of the development projects not proceed to contract. It was highlighted that the biggest issue was influencing future funding such as Borderlands, Shared Prosperity Fund, Future High Streets and Strong Towns Fund.
The Local Committee noted that one of the major challenges in the county was the declining working age population and it was acknowledged there was a need to look at attracting more people to work in Cumbria whilst retaining older workers and addressing worklessness.
Members were informed that Cumbria had the smallest pool of people with graduate level qualifications in England of any LEP area. It was explained there were challenges in size of geography with areas having high rates of unemployment, deprivation, low skills, poor health and worklessness. It was highlighted that deprivation existed in areas with successful, and often growing employers.
During the course of discussion attention was drawn to the need to encourage professionals in service industries such as social workers, doctors and psychologists to the Barrow area. Members were informed a place marketing campaign was being undertaken and those concerns had been highlighted.
Members drew attention to isolation and deprivation highlighting that whilst Barrow was the second largest town in Cumbria isolation and deprivation was a big problem and contributed to the number of people leaving the area to seek employment elsewhere. It was explained that infrastructure and public transport were also major factors which contributed towards isolation in the area and it was felt this needed to be addressed to alleviate some of the problems incurred.
The Local Committee emphasised the need for an improved infrastructure throughout the county drawing particular attention to the A590. Whilst it was acknowledged the infrastructure was the responsibility of Highways England members felt better access to the Barrow area was required and felt that with support of the LEP they could help to identify this as a priority.
During the course of discussion concerns were also raised regarding the lack of resilience during flooding on the A590.
The Chief Executive acknowledged all of the concerns raised regarding the A590 highlighting the need to change the methodology for resilience and assessment of the infrastructure. The Local Committee drew attention to the formation of a lobbying group which included both the County and District Councils and other partners and welcomed the support of the LEP.
Members discussed the challenging geography of the county highlighting the importance of excellent digital and mobile connectivity. It was acknowledged that there were challenges regarding this but explained that support was being sought from a number of sources.
A discussion took place regarding the importance of broadband facilities and attention was drawn to Starlink by SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon who were proposing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations to provide global internet. The Chief Executive, CLEP agreed to investigate this further.
Members discussed the need for the provision of charging points for electric cars. It was explained that electrification was being considered by a Climate Change Group and the LEP had offered their support to the Group.
In conclusion members welcomed the headline targets which included improving productivity levels in Cumbria (geographically and sectorally), delivering inclusive growth by reducing economic disparities and levels of workless families and maintaining the workforce and attracting more people of working age to live in the county.
The Chair, on behalf of members, thanked Jo Lappin for a detailed presentation and asked that a meeting, specifically to discuss the matter further, be scheduled.