By Max Clarke

Businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire will be supported by a new local enterprise partnership approved today by Business Minister Mark Prisk and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark.

The Swindon and Wiltshire local enterprise partnership covers a population of around 650,000 and represents over 26,000 businesses. It has the support of both local authorities in the area and joins the 36 partnerships announced since the Government’s Local Growth White Paper was published in October last year.

The priority of the private sector-led partnership is to promote growth and create jobs in the area. To achieve this, the Swindon and Wiltshire partnership plans to help create 10,000 new jobs and safeguard a further 8,000 by 2015. Its priorities include increasing the coverage of super-fast broad band, regenerating and improving connectivity between the main population areas, supporting the tourism industry and helping to realise the potential of the growth sectors like advanced manufacturing and engineering, information technology and logistics.

Mark Prisk said:

“I’m delighted that we are able to approve a proposal for a Swindon and Wiltshire partnership that had the best interests of the area at its heart.

“Local enterprise partnerships are making excellent progress in bringing together their plans for local growth, and I hope to see this partnership working quickly to identify the needs of the area it will serve.

“Local enterprise partnerships have an important role to play in identifying each area’s potential for growth and I want all local communities to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the private sector and the opportunities that growth brings.”

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:

"We can see from the Swindon and Wiltshire local enterprise partnership the strength of the area’s local ambition, leadership and ideas. It is clear local councils, businesses and civic leaders are ready to exploit Swindon and Wiltshire's potential for growth and create new jobs.

"There are now 37 local enterprise partnerships, covering 98 per cent of the country, moving us closer to creating a fairer and more balanced economy driven by private sector strength. I'm delighted the business-led network for local enterprise partnerships is now live and hosting its first local enterprise partnership conference in September, which will allow partnerships across the country to share ideas and information as they get off the ground. "

A new network for local enterprise partnerships is now live following Ministers' announcement in April that the British Chambers of Commerce would establish a network to share best practice across the LEP community. Although BCC has been invited to convene the Network, it will be separate from BCC and will work collaboratively with other organisations including business groups.

The network has already announced the first local enterprise partnership conference to be held at the Park Plaza County Hall Hotel in London and attended by partnership members from across the country and Ministers on September 15.

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