New twist in row over LEP progress

Frank McKenna
Frank McKenna
0
Have your say

A war of words between business leaders in the county has escalated as another big player waded into the row.

The North and Western Chamber of Commerce last week blasted the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) over lack of communication to firms about the enterprise zones and slow progress.

Norman Tenray

Norman Tenray

The President of the Chamber, Norman Tenray, issued strong criticism following a survey commissioned by his organisation.

Now chief executive of Downtown in Business, and former deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, Frank McKenna, has described the attack as “baffling and ill timed”.

Mr McKenna said: “This concern has been consistently raised by the business stakeholder board for a number of months now, and the LEP is responding positively with a series of business engagement initiatives planned over the next few months. What we should acknowledge is the LEP’s tremendous ability to actually get things done despite the lack of resource it has been given by central government.

“An Enterprise Zone has been secured, we have won a city deal and done extremely well in attracting significant pots of cash for business support from both national and European budgets.

This concern has been consistently raised by the business stakeholder board for a number of months now, and the LEP is responding positively with a series of business engagement initiatives planned over the next few months

“We often hear business in Lancashire talk about how much they admire Manchester’s success and rightly so. Point one, line one in Manchester’s rules of engagement is to keep your private spats private.

“There is always a place for constructive criticism, but the main reason this particular statement is so bizarre is that the Chamber has had a place on the LEP board for the past four years.

“Surely, therefore it has a duty to inform its members of what the LEP is doing? The chamber president, in effect, is criticising his own organisation.”

But MrTenray hit back and said: “The chamber of commerce was instrumental in bringing a pan-Lancashire LEP to the county more than four years ago.

“We supported the LEP then, because it was what our members wanted, and we support it today.

“We applaud it for its work in establishing three Enterprise Zones in the county.

“But there has been a clear and obvious delay in making these zones effective and there is a clear concern from our members that the new zone at Blackpool will endure the same delays as in Warton and Samlesbury, where only a few jobs have so far materialised of the promised 6,000.

“As of last year, we no longer have a seat on the LEP board, so I am not criticising my own organisation.

“Indeed when we did have a representative on the board he was not permitted to discuss LEP business outside, which clearly made engagement and communication impossible.”