New LEP role for Boost boss Andy Walker

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The head of Boost, Lancashire’s business growth hub, is taking over the day-to-day running of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) following the departure of chief executive Sarah Kemp.

Andy Walker, who is head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council, will take on the LEP role on an interim basis as part of his job to drive forward economic growth in the county.

It has also been announced that he will help the LEP prepare for new governance arrangements to assist the body in becoming “fully embedded” into the anticipated County Deal that ‘Greater Lancashire’ is negotiating with government.

Those involved in those negotiations say that placing the LEP in a central role will be critical for the success of any deal, which they stress will place growth and business at its heart.

Debbie Francis, who chairs the LEP, welcomed the announcement. She said: “Andy is a well-known and well-respected figure in Lancashire’s business community and he’s the perfect person to take on the role of managing the LEP in this transitionary period.

“A thriving and dynamic private sector lies at the heart of Lancashire’s devolution ambitions. The LEP’s role will be vital as we secure a County Deal for Lancashire, so we want to ensure the LEP is fully embedded into the emerging structures.

“It makes sense that during this period the LEP’s management arrangements are brought under the supervision of Lancashire County Council.”

Andy Walker said: “Economic growth is the key to ensuring the success of our emerging County Deal. The LEP has such an important part to play in this, so I am thrilled to be taking this responsibility on at such an exciting time for Lancashire.”

Mr Walker said that the LEP had developed a “distinctive voice” for the private sector and that remained its key strength and he added: “Moving forward we will look to focus on those areas where the LEP can make a difference.”

He said that the input of the private sector in a successful County Deal process was vital and stressed: “Making sure there is that strong and clear private sector voice in terms of economic strategy and development in Lancashire is going to be really important.”

It was announced in May that Sarah Kemp was departing from her LEP role and that she had been appointed as pro-vice chancellor for engagement at Lancaster University.

She joined the LEP in April 2020 and helped steer the county through several major challenges including Covid-19, Brexit, and the government’s net zero targets.

During her time in the role the LEP secured millions in new funding to support economic growth across Lancashire through a wide mix of infrastructure, skills, transport, R&D and business support programmes.

The LEP also established several business-led sector groups which have informed a wide range of investment strategies.