Fund­ing fear for city af­ter EEDA scrapped

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - UK & World Update - By ADAM UREN

THE scrap­ping of a Govern­ment agency which has pumped £41.6 mil­lion into Peter­bor­ough has left fu­ture fund­ing for city growth in doubt.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nick Clegg an­nounced at a Govern­ment cabi­net meet­ing in Brad­ford yes­ter­day that re­gional devel­op­ment agen­cies (RDAs) – in­clud­ing East of Eng­land Devel­op­ment Agency (EEDA) – will be re­placed by new bod­ies called Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ships.

They will in­vest in trans­port, hous­ing and re­gen­er­a­tion on a lo­cal rather than a re­gional scale.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed the rev­e­la­tion in last week’s emer­gency bud­get that RDAs would be scrapped.

Yes­ter­day, Mr Clegg re­vealed that £1 bil­lion of re­gional devel­op­ment fund­ing will be avail­able from 2011 to 2013 – but ex­actly how that will be di­vided up be­tween the LEPs is not yet known.

EEDA, which em­ploys 245 peo­ple in Cam­bridge, has in­vested mil­lions of pounds into Peter­bor­ough since its in­cep­tion in 1999 and civic lead­ers now fear its clo­sure will mean less in­vest­ment for the city.

With EEDA re­cently hav­ing £23.3mil­lion cut from its bud­get, Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil leader Marco Cer­este be­lieves there will be less money around for LEPs when they come into force.

He said: “There is no ques­tion that the changes at EEDA will have a knock on ef­fect for eco­nomic de- vel­op­ment in Peter­bor­ough, but we will be do­ing what needs to be done to pro­tect the city’s in­ter­ests.”

The fu­ture of EEDA will be out­lined in a govern­ment White Paper, which is ex­pected to pass into law this sum­mer.

In the mean­time, EEDA has pledged to con­tinue sup­port­ing busi­ness growth. Chair­man Wil­liam Pope said: “In the tran­si­tion, our re­spon­si­bil­ity is to sup­port the con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in eco­nomic devel­op­ment across the East of Eng­land.”

City re­gen­er­a­tion body Op­por­tu­nity Peter­bor­ough - which is tasked with at­tract­ing in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ing the city’s econ­omy – is now in pre­par­ing a case for Peter­bor­ough to be at the fore­front of run­ning a new LEP.

To en­sure it has a strong case, OP is con­sult­ing district coun­cils in South Hol­land, South Kesteven and Rut­land about a pos­si­ble joint ven­ture. It will sub­mit its plan to the Govern­ment in Septem­ber.

It also wants Hunt­ing­don­shire District Coun­cil, Fen­land District Coun­cil and East Northamp­ton­shire Coun­cil on board with the project.

OP’s di­rec­tor of eco­nomic devel­op­ment Neil Dar­win said: “We don’t want to see Peter­bor­ough play­ing sec­ond fid­dle to Cam­bridge, so we are speak­ing to ar­eas which al­ready con­trib­ute to and ben­e­fit from the Peter­bor­ough econ­omy.”

City MP Ste­wart Jack­son said Govern­ment fund­ing for growth should be in­vested by peo­ple who know where it needs spend­ing.

He said: “Lo­cal re­gen­er­a­tion projects should be driven by lo­cal elected of­fi­cials work­ing to­gether with busi­nesses.”

North West Cam­bridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara agreed.

He said LEPs will be a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive to re­gional agen­cies.

He added: “The RDAs have al­ways been sur­plus to re­quire­ments, do­ing work which could be prop­erly dealt with by other agen­cies.

“It costs a huge amount of money which we will now be able to save in these tough eco­nomic times.

“The RDAs should have been scrapped a long time ago, but it is bet­ter late than never.”

IN­VEST­MENT: EEDA put cash into the Cathe­dral Square re­vamp (above).

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