By Max Clarke

A new local enterprise partnership for the North East of England was approved today by Minister for Business, Mark Prisk, and Decentralisation Minister, Greg Clark.

The partnership, covering seven local authority areas home to some 2 million people, joins the 27 partnerships announced since the Government’s Local Growth White Paper was published in October last year.

The government has received a total of 62 proposals from across the country. With the addition of the North of England, the 28 partnerships approved now represent 65% of all businesses and the combined population of areas under the scheme stands at 36 million, or 70% of England’s population.

A partnership for the Tees Valley area has already been invited to put its governance arrangements in place. Today’s announcement means the entire North East region is now covered by two local enterprise partnerships.

Local enterprise partnerships bring together local business and civic leaders, working to support their local economy. They will operate within a geography that reflects natural economic areas and will provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership needed to drive sustainable private sector growth and job creation in their area.

Mark Prisk said:

“I’m delighted that we are able to ask the North Eastern partnership to join this growing network, which will play a crucial role in driving local economic growth across the country and creating a strong environment for business.

“We are continuing to assess proposals for further partnerships across England, so that soon more local communities will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the private sector and the opportunities that growth brings.”

Greg Clark said:

“This latest local enterprise partnership is a crucial one - completing the North East picture - and I’m pleased to give it the go ahead today. It is a testament to local ambition and ingenuity, and proof that central government does not need to micromanage. The ball is now in their court to work for the people of the North East, alongside the Tees Valley partnership.

“Local enterprise partnerships will bring people together - local authorities from across administrative divides, business leaders and civic leaders - in a common goal: to promote jobs, growth and prosperity in their local area.”

Business leaders have also established a North East Economic Partnership (NEEP) to work on issues of strategic importance across the North East to look at and promote co-operation between the two LEPs. This is an Independent Forum, which the Government supports. However, it is not a local enterprise partnership and therefore did not need Government approval.