Trust us with the infrastructure levy, LEPs say


Business members of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are the right people to decide on the planned new infrastructure levy, the central support body for the 39 partnerships has said.

Under new plans unveiled by chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative Party conference, directly elected mayors could add a premium to business rates to pay for new infrastructure provided it is supported by a majority vote of the business members of the LEP.

In a strong defence of the local public and private partnerships, James Newman, chair of Sheffield City Region LEP argued that LEPs did not lack the transparency or accountability necessary to make decisions about the new levy.

And while he conceded LEPs operated on a ‘patchwork’ system, with different partnerships working in different ways, he rejected the idea that government should step in with more formal rules now the bodies handle not only billions of pounds through the local growth fund, but are also in line for a fiscal veto over the levy.

He added that ‘LEPs probably do more consultation than local councils on business growth issues’.

His comments come after Transport Network revealed concerns within the local infrastructure sector about a 'democratic deficit' and that LEPs lacked the transparency to be placed in charge of such key decision-making.

Mr Newman told Transport Network: ‘I welcome the chancellor’s statement and his confidence in the private sector to assist their local authority colleagues in making the right decisions on all matters related to economic growth. The private sector are interested in influencing decisions not controlling them and his proposals on the additional business rate levy mirror that.

James Newman: 'Influence not control.'

‘If businesses are going to be asked to pay more for infrastructure projects, which are supposed to support business growth, it is perfectly reasonable that business leaders should be given the opportunity to influence the decisions and eventual outcomes.

‘The private sector are much more likely to take a commercial, focused and non-partisan approach to deciding which infrastructure projects are the most important and deserving of any additional levy.’

He added: ‘The vast majority of LEPs appoint their private sector members by open advertisement so anybody from any organisation, large or small, can apply. A good chairman will ensure that there is an appropriate spread of geographical and sector representation.

'Most LEPs also have a structure of involving and communicating with all its business sectors, representative organisations and the third sector on a regular basis and, as such, probably do more consultation than local councils on business growth issues.’

In Mr Newman's LEP, a private sector representative is appointed by other private sector colleagues linked to or on the LEP, with their position reviewed every two or three years.

Mr Newman said private sector members had to be appointed by other private sector members to ensure equality and balance between the public and private halves of the LEP.

However it is by no means clear that all LEPs follow the same process. The Government left the organisation of LEPs largely in local hands.

In its LEP Assurance Framework, which came out in December 2014 more than three years after the first LEP was established, it states: ‘LEPs will have considerable freedom to determine how to implement the key practices and standards articulated in this national framework through their own local assurance framework.

‘LEPs have rightly established and structured themselves in very different ways, reflecting the differing needs and demands of each area, and we are not seeking to change that.’

The few rules set down for LEP board membership include the requirement for a private sector chair with the board made up of at least 50% private sector members, and public sector members drawn from local authority leaders and other relevant public sector organisations.

Mr Newman suggested there was no need to change the governance of LEPs now, stating there should only be reform ‘if someone can demonstrate what is happening now in practice isn't working; why legislate when you don’t need to?’

Mr Newman argued that a range of areas could be included under the umbrella of the infrastructure levy, including roads, transport, housing, broadband and schools but stopped short of suggesting non-physical infrastructure like skills should be included.

‘It’s a question of whether the infrastructure directly affects the economy, whether it’s an enabler of economic growth’ he said, before adding that other less business-orientated infrastructure demands, such as social care homes for instance, should not come under the infrastructure levy’s banner.

He also went on to say that projects for the levy's cash should have to follow the same value for money guidelines as used for the local growth fund, for transport this would include WebTAG compliance - government guidance on transport modelling and appraisal.  


Also see

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Senior Team Leader

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 to £38,994 per annum inclusive
Looking for individuals with initiative, evidence of experience in managing a street cleansing service and motivating... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Information Management Officer x 2 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
Looking for better and smarter ways to operate and you will play a key role working across a broad range of service... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Graduate Engineer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
This is an exciting new opportunity in the Highway Services team to play a pivotal role in creating a safe and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Chief Fire Officer

West Sussex County Council
Competitive Salary plus Financial Support for Recruitment and Retention
We are looking for an exceptional individual who can lead our Fire & Rescue Service Chichester, West Sussex
Recuriter: West Sussex County Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata.
Looking for someone that is friendly, has great communication skills and enjoys working with children. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Engineer (Highway Design)

Darlington Borough Council
£31,371 - £33,799
Looking to employ an experienced person within the Highway Design team to meet the challenge of enabling development... Darlington, Durham
Recuriter: Darlington Borough Council

Project Manager – Major Maintenance and Infrastructure Projects 

Liverpool City Council
£42,683 - £47,491 
The successful candidate will ensure that effective procurement and delivery of highways maintenance and improvement. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Green Space Development Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Green Space Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 - £47,360
The successful candidate will join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team and contribute to our commitment to deliver for the people of Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Principal Planning Officer - Fixed Term

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£39.774 - £42.684
Looking for key members of the team that will be instrumental in transforming the Borough and opportunities available for residents.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planner

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27228 - £36711
In this role you will deal primarily with small-scale planning applications covering a wide range of planning issues. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Career Grade Planning Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£27.228 - £36.711
We offer a great opportunity to develop your career with a positive approach to development and a desire to put... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Director of Place and Communities

Ashfield District Council
As the Director for Place and Communities you will provide strategic and operational leadership across a range of key services including Waste... Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Ashfield District Council

Highways Operative - 3 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£18,426 - £21,166 (plus 20% enhancement if working in the night team)
You will be responsible for providing effective maintenance and development of the Kirklees road network carrying out a range of highway works. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Rights of Way Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£26,470 - £28,221
The purpose of the role is to implement and advise on the maintenance, protection, improvement and promotion of access... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
£11.41 - £12.35 per hour
Are you passionate about Road Safety, and want to help educate road users and develop their skills? Wrekin, Telford
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council


Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
As an Engineer, you will be required to lead the delivery of a wide range of highway improvements and maintenance projects to... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Inspector / Senior Inspector

City of Bradford MDC
£21,166 - £31,371 pa
This is an opportunity to join the Highway Maintenance team who have responsibility for maintenance of around 2,000km of adopted road network. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Head of Highways Infrastructure

Leeds City Council
£72,397 - £79,637
Seeking an exceptional candidate for the position of Head of Highways Infrastructure to lead on the authority’s duty to... Leeds, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Leeds City Council

Definitive Map Manager

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
This role is based within the Highways Service at Cambridgeshire County Council and provides an unusual and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council