My branding of the new Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as an “absolute joke” earlier this week has caused a bit of a stir in the media.
I am amazed that this ‘new’ organisation is simply a transfer of name from one bureaucracy, The Mersey Partnership (TMP) to the LEP.
Whereas Leeds has an LEP staffed by six people, and Cheshire just two, the Liverpool LEP will have 52 personnel, as well as secondees from the various local authorities who run Merseyside.
It is a shocking failure, and one born of the continued tribalism and parochialism that exists among a few of our political leaders across the city region.
LEP’s were established by the government to replace Regional Development Agencies. We were told that they would be lean and mean; cut back bureaucracy; be more cost efficient and be private sector led.
I am not sure who the private sector leaders are who have landed us with this structure, but certainly Downtown and our members were not consulted!
There was an an opportunity to clear an unnecessary tier of bureaucracy that has existed in Greater Liverpool for far too long, re-brand Liverpool Vision so that its remit extended to the whole of Merseyside, make some much needed savings and establish a much more business friendly structure.
Instead the old problems of Merseyside parochialism and the appetite to empire build have won the day over common sense.
In response to my comments the TMP/LEP said “the region has far too few businesses, not enough business activity and not enough jobs.”
I couldn’t agree more – and that is why the people responsible for that sorry record should not be getting extended contracts to continue to deliver more of the same.
I was wrong though. It’s not a joke. It’s far too serious to be funny.