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Cheshire East: Business Growth

Volume 575: debated on Tuesday 11 February 2014

4. What support the Government are giving to business growth opportunities in Cheshire East through the Cheshire and Warrington local enterprise partnership. (902506)

I look forward to meeting members of the Cheshire and Warrington local enterprise partnership to provide feedback on its proposed bid for access to the local growth fund. The sum of £2 billion has been taken from Whitehall Departments to fund local projects that can drive growth. I urge my hon. Friend, and all Members, to work with their local enterprise partnerships and help to shape their bids during the weeks ahead.

Does the Minister agree that, in a county such as Cheshire, one priority should be to support innovative approaches to strengthening our rural economy? An example is the Cheshire Fresh agricultural hub at Middlewich, which will provide up to 700 jobs and promote best practice, young enterprise, training, inward investment and food security.

I agree with my hon. Friend. I know that that project features in the draft proposals from her local enterprise partnership, and I hope that when she meets representatives of her LEP, she will encourage them to ensure that it has the priority that she rightly thinks should be attached to it.

Despite the fact that huge amounts of public money are being channelled through local enterprise partnerships, the Government have admitted that they carry out no formal assessment of their effectiveness. What is the Minister going to do to make these partnerships more accountable, so that the people in Warrington can get a better deal from the Cheshire and Warrington LEP?

The hon. Lady can play a role in that. She can hold her local enterprise partnership to account and scrutinise its proposals. Every LEP in England will be putting forward a bid for funds from the £2 billion that I have mentioned, and I have made it clear to them that they should consult and involve their Members of Parliament. I hope that she will take up that invitation.