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South East Local Enterprise Partnership

Volume 578: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2014

7. What discussions he has had with the South East local enterprise partnership on devolving powers and responsibilities to that partnership. (903240)

As with all local enterprise partnerships, I have met the South East LEP to discuss its growth deal proposal and to provide feedback and support on its draft proposals. When Lord Heseltine and I met the LEP earlier this year, we were encouraged by the direction that the proposal set out, particularly in addressing transport bottlenecks and support for small and medium-sized businesses.

Does the Minister agree that the local growth plan should help to prioritise bringing forward schemes that have the ability to transform local economies, particularly schemes like the Folkestone seafront regeneration plan?

I do agree. I know that that scheme will have a prominent place in South East LEP’s proposals. I should also like to commend the involvement of Sir Roger de Haan, my hon. Friend’s distinguished constituent and activist, who has been very much been involved in transforming the future of Folkestone. He deserves the congratulations and support of everyone in this House.

Is the Minister aware that in past times the South East England Development Agency spent £20 million in my constituency without creating a business partnership? We have seen a dramatic sea change. Does he agree that we should trust South East LEP, which has been doing an excellent job?

I do agree. Peter Jones, who chairs South East LEP, has done a fantastic job in building on the already excellent work of the county council. The relationships that have been forged with business are driving the prosperity of the coastal area of Kent in particular, which my hon. Friend represents.