Business leaders talk LEPs at round table discussion

Local businesses challenged the new Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to engage with SMEs across the county as the new organisation looks at its priorities.

Decision makers from across Lancashire were joined by Lancashire Business View editor Nick Hyde for the debate, chaired by Downtown Business in Lancashire chairman Frank McKenna.

Downtown Lancashire in Business hosted a discussion to launch the fourth Lancashire Business Survey which was attended by business leaders from across the county including Steven Broomhead, who sits on the LEP.

He said: “The LEP is settling reasonably well and has established a good common purpose. Our task is to identify priority business sectors and geographic areas and work is already underway by Professor Michael Parkinson to establish these. The annual business survey can feed in to this process.”

Rob Kenmore, corporate finance partner from Moore and Smalley, said: “The biggest challenge for the LEP is to communicate the priorities to SMEs and get them engaged. The board has representatives from large businesses and political bodies but where is the voice of the SMEs?”

The discussion also highlighted the East vs West debate that has dogged the formation of the LEP. Daniel Milne, partner in business law, from Forbes Solicitors said: “The initial LEP bids didn’t do anyone any favours. If we can identify priorities defined by places and sectors then people all across the county can buy into an all encompassing approach.”

McKenna said: “The survey has become the voice of the private sector across Lancashire and was previously used by the NWDA as a barometer of business opinion. The new LEP is keen to hear the views from senior decision makers on a wide range of business issues and we encourage all companies to take part in the survey.”

The survey, sponsored by Forbes Solicitors and Moore and Smalley, is available on www.lancashirebusinesssurvey.co.uk.