New Cambs enterprise body will look to Europe for cash

THE new Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership has appointed a chairman to help drive forward the economic vision for the area.

Neville Reyner (CBE DL) brings with him to the new cash-strapped economic development body a wealth of business experience and has performed a range of broader roles at local, national and international levels.

He lives in Royston and is chairman of Anglia Components Ltd in Wisbech, as well as being president of the British Chamber of Commerce and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

He takes up the unpaid post on March 1.

There is no money to pay either him or the other six members of the board who are due to be drawn from the business community around Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and adjacent areas of surrounding counties – even though the local enterprise partnership (LEP) will effectively replace many of the functions of the soon-to-disappear East of England Enterprise Agency, whose annual budget topped �100million even after recent cuts.

Alex Plant, chief executive of not-for-profit infrastructure delivery company Cambridgeshire Horizons, who is co-ordinating the establishment of the LEP, hopes for a chunk of �5m of Government pump-priming funding for LEPs in growth areas such as Cambridgeshire.

The LEP board, which will also include five local authority representatives and a couple of others, including the voluntary sector, is expected to have its first formal public meeting in April.

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Thereafter, it is likely to be looking to Brussels for serious funding to bridge the infrastructure deficit and for economic development projects ultimately aimed at doubling the areas’s �30bn-a-year GDP within two decades.

Because of the diversity of the area and the vast range of company size and sector, the board may look to a separate advisory board or council for specialist advice.

Mr Reyner, a hugely-experienced East of England industrialist with a background in electrical and electronic engineering, is also a former deputy chairman of EEDA.

He said: “I recognise that this is going to be a challenging role because we are in uncharted territory. The enterprise partnership is a brand new entity, which we will have to create afresh.

“Our area, with its diverse and growing economy, and its wealth of globally-competitive clusters, is one of the most important in the UK. Achieving our economic potential will be critical for the Government in terms of driving overall economic growth and recovery for the UK. I look forward to starting work in earnest on this project from March 1.”