Agenda item

Local Enterprise Partnership Review and Lancashire Local Growth Assurance Framework


Stephen Young, Executive Director of Growth, Environment, Transport and Community Services, Lancashire County Council, presented a report (circulated) regarding the Local Enterprise Partnership Review and Lancashire Local Growth Assurance Framework.


The report provided an update from the work of the LEP Transition Working Group which consisted of LEP Directors Councillor Mark Townsend, Ann Dean, Miranda Barker and Jim Carter advised by officers from the Accountable Body Stephen Young, Laura Sales and Richard Kenny in addition to Paul Evans from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


Stephen gave a presentation that was broken down into eight areas as follows:


1.  Appointment of the "Top Team"


This covered the current status regarding the appointment of a new permanent Chair (the process for this appointment being led by Blackpool Council and subject to a separate report), followed by the appointment of a permanent Chief Executive.  It was also reported that Addleshaws, whom the LEP has already engaged as independent legal advisers, had been approached to provide an Interim Chief Executive solution until a new permanent Chief Executive is appointed.


It was agreed that the Section 151 Officer will obtain a CV for the Interim Chief Executive which will be shared with the Board.  The Interim Chief Executive will also be asked to arrange meetings with Directors at the earliest opportunity.


2.  The Accountable Body


Attention was drawn to the draft Accountable Body statement in the draft Local Growth Assurance Framework.  It was noted that the view of the Transition Working Group was to retain Lancashire County Council as the Accountable Body.


Some Board Members raised concerns over the wording of the Accountable Body statement, in particular paragraph 8 which references approval of the appointment of a Chair and Chief Executive. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also had some discomfort about this.


The Section 151 Officer welcomed the helpful comments and stated that the company doesn't have a typical setup whereby the Shareholders (or Members) would carry the financial risks, the financial liability for the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership lies with the Accountable Body who therefore have a responsibility to protect their interests and those of taxpayers. This  needs to be taken into account.I In light of the concerns raised it was agreed that the Accountable Body statement will be reviewed and re-worded with a view to satisfying both the Directors of the company and the Accountable Body, with the suggestion that a veto may be more appropriate.



3.  Shareholder (Company Member) Options


It was highlighted that not making a change Lancashire County Council being the sole member of the company was not an option and would not be compliant with the requirements of the Government guidance.


There were no changes proposed to the company structure by the Transition Working Group, therefore the proposals considered regarding Company Structure at the previous Board meetings which were to retain the existing Private Company Limited by Guarantee structure but to add additional Company Members, still stands.


The Transition Working Group recommended that the Membership of the company be expanded to include the other Local Authorities that currently have a Director on the Board, namely Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Burnley Borough Council and South Ribble Borough Council.


In addition, the working group suggested, as proposed in the report, that the Chamber of Commerce (East and North Western) be added to the Company Membership with a view to inviting other local authorities and private sector organisations moving forward if appropriate.


The Section 151 Officer advised that a clear timescale be put on this arrangement of, for example six months, at which point it will come back to the Board for further consideration. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy present indicated that local authority membership would be sufficient for their requirements.


Board Members debated how the company membership could develop in the future, how the private sector could be involved, the potential for having a Members Reserved Matters agreement and requested further clarity on the powers of the members.


It was agreed that further clarification will be provided with regard to the proposed company membership and powers of the members whilst noting that making no changes to the company membership is not an option.


4.  Independent Secretariat


It was proposed that an interim Chief Executive be appointed (with Addleshaws approached to provide an interim person).  It was stated that the reason for this proposed arrangement was to allow for the new permanent Chairman to be appointed who will then be involved in the recruitment of the new permanent Chief Executive, who at the point of being appointed would be given the opportunity to shape the future staffing structure required as they see fit.  In the interim period it was proposed that four existing staff that are currently dedicated to LEP activities would continue to support the Board and be directly managed by the interim Chief Executive.


The Board requested that timescales be provided on the recruitment process for all positions within a critical path.


5.  Accommodation


Stephen Young advised the Board that in accordance with the recommendations from the Transition Working Group to find an independent physical space for the LEP in the short term and for the permanent Chair and Chief Executive to review with a view to arrangements in the medium to long term.


Board Members advised that a timescale should also be added to the critical path for the temporary accommodation arrangements with a preference for the LEP to move to accommodation that is not part of the County Council's estate.


6.  Scheme of Delegation


The proposed Scheme of Delegation contained within the draft Local Growth Assurance Framework was presented to the Board.


It was highlighted that some updates are required to the Business Support Management Board within the Framework, these changes would be updated following the meeting.


7.  Executive Committee


It was proposed that the Executive Committee be replaced by an Urgent Business Procedure, as set out, in order to engage all LEP Directors in urgent decisions.


The Board was broadly supportive of the proposal and requested that a breakdown of the decisions taken by the Executive Committee over the last 12 months with information as to the nature of the urgency be provided to the next Board meeting in April 2019.


8.  Scrutiny Arrangements


A proposal was presented to maintain the existing scrutiny arrangements but to also enhance them by approaching Lancashire Leaders Group with a request to establish a new local government joint scrutiny committee with opportunity for all fifteen local authorities to be represented.


Board Members were supportive of these proposals.


Feedback from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy advised the Board that it is for the Board to be satisfied that it is compliant and that the measures provide them with satisfaction that the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership is independent and private sector led.  As an illustration of the need for greater transparency between the LEP and the County Council the example was given of the Board papers for the LEP. Following a link for board papers from the LEP website takes you to the County Council site where the papers are held. This could make it hard for some to understand that the LEP and  County Council are separate entities.


Resolved:  The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Board, advised by the Transition Working Group:


(i)  Approved the Lancashire Local Growth Assurance Framework, as set out in the Annex, and request its immediate publication on the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership website to ensure compliance with new Government guidance effective from 1st April 2019, subject to the recommended amendments to the Accountable Body Statement and other changes to the Business Support Management Board description and Terms of Reference.


(ii)  Noted the progress in the appointment of a permanent Chair.


(iii)  Approved the appointment of an independent Interim Chief Executive and asked Lancashire County Council to agree to the role having direct management responsibility for the existing officers that work solely on the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership with a CV to be shared from the Interim Chief Executive with Directors.


(iv)  Agreed to the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive as set out, with a timeline to be provided on this process.


(v)  Agreed that Lancashire County Council should dilute its sole ownership of the company by 31st March 2019 in accordance with the first steps identified and set out by the Transition Working Group as the first stage in a new ownership model with further clarification to be provided regarding the powers of the company owners (members).  With a timetable to set out the final objective of the company ownership change with a timeline for implementation.


(vi)  Agree that Lancashire County Council should continue to act as the Accountable Body, subject to the recommended amendments being made to the Accountable Body Statement.


(vii)  Requested that Lancashire Leaders establish a joint Scrutiny Committee with representation from all local authorities across Lancashire to provide more inclusive scrutiny arrangements for Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and its activities.


(viii)  Agreed to replace the Executive Committee with an Urgent Business Procedure, as set out in Option 3, paragraph 26.


(ix)  Agreed to establish an Innovation Board (as a Committee of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership) and to invite Lancashire businesses and universities to take an active leadership role within it with officers requested to draft Terms of Reference for the new Innovation Board to be presented to the next Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Board meeting for approval, with it requested that the Chair of the Innovation Board be from the Private Sector; and


(x)  Requested that a timeline be produced for the implementation of all of the steps required to be taken to action in order to ensure compliance.


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