Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership boosts jobs hopes

Maxine Aldred
Image caption Maxine Aldred hopes the enterprise zone will attract jobs to Northamptonshire

A newly-created local enterprise partnership (LEP)in Northamptonshire has increased hopes of a jobs boost.

The Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) is aimed at supporting business growth and attracting new business investment to the county.

Jim Harker, leader of Conservative-run Northamptonshire County Council, said: "I am delighted that Northamptonshire has been awarded LEP status.

"A LEP will enable us to deliver not just in the short term but also strategically and sustainably, which will provide the platform for future and much-needed economic growth."

It follows this summer's announcement of an enterprise zone which will now sit inside the LEP area, as well as within the bounds of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

'Tailored skills'

Among 21 other enterprise zones are sites at Harlow, Alconbury and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft but the Northampton Waterside zone will be England's largest.

It will cover 120 hectares (297 acres) and with Silverstone not far away, the aim is to attract high-end motorsport engineering and office employers, too.

Maxine Aldred of SEMLEP said: "It will attract high-performance industry, precision engineeering, advanced technology.

"The University of Northampton is here to provide the tailored skills for what the business and enterprise zone actually needs."

David Palethorpe, leader of Conservative-run Northampton Borough Council, said he believed the zone would create 12,400 jobs in four years.

'Hard work'

"We are in a difficult economic situation but it will not always be like that," he said.

"The important thing from our point of view is that this is the start of the real hard work, having been given the enterprise zone, and it is up to us to take that forward."

Enterprise zones give business rate relief to firms setting up there.

Margaret Thatcher set up the first enterprise zones in the 1980s.

Critics said they just moved jobs from one place to another and were not good value for money.

Andrew Sissons of the think-thank The Work Foundation said: "They had a cost of up to £50,000 per new job created, which is quite expensive compared to some of the other interventions available to the government."

Planning lawyer Trevor Ivory of Howes Percival, said: "If these enterprise zones are going to have a lasting impact then you have got to get those businesses in, not just for the period of the subsidy, and then move on to which other government in which other country is offering the next subsidy.

"For me, it's going to only work if we can tie those businesses in and encourage them to root into the local economy, and I think that long-term approach does seem to be included within the proposals."

The Politics Show in the East is broadcast at 11:00 BST on Sunday.

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