By Claire West

Minister for Regional and Local Economic Development Mark Prisk, and Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark, today hosted a round table event with business groups, local authorities and think tanks to listen to their views on the creation of local enterprise partnerships.

Attendees included representatives from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce.

Representatives discussed the issues and opportunities they see arising from the new structures and highlighted their areas’ priorities for growth. They also talked about issues in relation to the size, scope and geography they would want from a local enterprise partnership.

Speaking after the meeting, Mark Prisk said: 'Our structural reforms call for a bottom-up approach. It’s crucial that local authorities and business work hand-in-hand to establish proposals for enterprise partnerships'.

'Together they have the insight and understanding to set out a vision for a strong local economic future, and then decide what structures can best achieve that vision'.

'Today’s positive meeting saw business and council leaders engage in a helpful conversation about forming effective partnerships that can provide real strategic leadership and drive local economic growth. I was grateful to hear their views and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of our discussion in action over the coming weeks and months'.

Greg Clark said: 'The arbitrary division of the country into regions conformed to government bodies rather than natural economic areas. This gives the right of initiative back to councils and businesses to say how they wish to best organise themselves to pursue economic growth'.

In the Coalition agreement, the Government announced that it would abolish the Regional Development Agencies and replace them with local enterprise partnerships - joint local authority and business-led organisations that match economic reality on the ground and can make a real difference.

On 29 June, the Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable and Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles wrote to local authorities and businesses inviting them to submit proposals on forming local enterprise partnerships.

Today’s meeting was organised to give attendees a further chance to help shape future policy ahead of the 6 September deadline for proposals.