Uncertainty over Chesterfield's future with two 'beneficial' organisations

Chesterfield Town Hall.
Chesterfield Town Hall.

Uncertainty surrounds Chesterfield Borough Council's future involvement with two partnerships which have financially backed a number of major projects in the area.

The council is part of two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) - Sheffield City Region and D2N2.

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However, the Government is now insisting that overlaps must be removed and that councils can only be part of one LEP.

The Government says 'retaining overlaps dilutes accountability and responsibility for setting strategies for places'.

LEPs help decide local economic priorities and drive growth and create jobs.

The Sheffield City Region LEP, for example, has put a total of £11million into the Chesterfield Waterside, Northern Gateway and Peak Resort projects.

Meanwhile, the D2N2 LEP has made a funding allocation of £16m for a planned project which includes the revitalisation of the Chesterfield train station area.

Discussions are ongoing about the council’s involvement with the two LEPs and at this stage it is not known when a final decision will be made.

Huw Bowen, the council's chief executive, said: "Chesterfield Borough Council continues to benefit from being a member of both Sheffield City Region and D2N2 LEPs.

"We are not convinced of the Government's arguments for the removal of overlaps.

"Chesterfield's economy looks both ways and our residents and businesses continue to benefit from the funding that we have been able to raise through both LEPs to support investment in infrastructure, skills development and business support.

"We however recognise the potential funding implications for the LEPs should a solution not be found and are currently actively engaging with both Sheffield City Region and D2N2 LEPs to better understand what positions of authority and influence are likely to be afforded by each LEP to Chesterfield Borough Council in the future, how the respective LEPs will manage any transitional arrangements to ensure our residents and businesses suffer no detriment in terms of the rollout of current and pipeline projects, and how the two LEPs will collaborate going forward on key activities and programmes, in particular the development of Local Industrial Strategies and HS2.

"These discussions, alongside those with neighbouring councils and others, will help inform our thinking on this matter but the primary motivation behind any final choice that we might have to make will always be what is in the best interests of the borough’s residents and businesses."