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Redditch Borough Council has voted unanimously that it would prefer the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, and intend to leave the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, if rules are changed so it cannot remain in both.

Redditch currently sits in both the Greater Birmingham and Solihull (GBSLEP) and Worcestershire (WLEP) LEPs where they ‘overlap’.

However a government review into LEPs this summer is considering removing such overlaps among other issues. If the overlap were to be removed, then it would be down to the government to decide which LEP Redditch was a member of.

As a result, at the July 22 meeting of the full council a cross-party motion was proposed by the Leader of the Council and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. It saw the council vote unanimously to resolve that if the overlap is removed then the council would:

  1. Declare that GBSLEP is its preferred LEP as this reflects the functioning economic geography (in line with central government guidance on the basis for LEPs)
  2. Give notice to WLEP of its intention to leave the partnership, and
  3. Write to the Secretary of State to inform Central Government of the decision.

Cllr Matt Dormer, Leader of Redditch Borough Council, said: “We don’t think the overlap is a problem, and in fact we think it can help where, like here in Redditch, the local economy doesn’t align with administrative boundaries.

“But LEPs are business-driven, and businesses in Redditch have stronger economic ties with Birmingham. In the language of the LEPs, our ‘functioning economic geography’ is northwards. And so while Redditch is and will always be a part of Worcestershire the county, if we are made to choose a LEP then we have to choose the GBSLEP. It’s a better fit, and already has a good track record of delivering projects in Redditch.”

Cllr Bill Hartnett, Leader of the Opposition, said: “Our duty is to do what is best for Redditch, and Redditch has had a fair share of funding from the GBSLEP. It’s taken an interest in Redditch, visited here, held its board meetings here, and formed many beneficial bonds and partnerships here. Most of Redditch’s business looks north, the transport links are much better, and so on. Let’s hope that if and when the minister makes the decision this motion is taken into consideration.”