A PAN-CAMBRIDGESHIRE local enterprise partnership, which aims to double economic activity and create 160,000 new jobs in the next 15 years, has beaten off a late challenge from across East Anglia.

A PAN-CAMBRIDGESHIRE local enterprise partnership, which aims to double economic activity and create 160,000 new jobs in the next 15 years, has beaten off a late challenge from across East Anglia to get the green light from the Government to replace EEDA, the regional development agency.

The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GC GP LEP) bid was one of only a handful of bids to be approved by business and local government ministers.

The partnership not only includes the whole of Cambridgeshire and greater Peterborough but extends into naturally homogenous areas such as adjoining parts of Rutland, Lincolnshire, Essex, Suffolk and west Norfolk.

The LEP will help tackle issues such as local transport and infrastructure, economic development, employment, planning and housing, enterprise and supporting business start-ups.

It plans to double the area's contribution to the national economy in 20 years, from £30billion a year to £60bn, to increase the number of businesses from 60,000 to 100,000 and create 160,000 new jobs, both by 2025, at the same time as delivering 100,000 additional homes by 2030.

At present, the area is also home to 1.3million people and around 700,000.

Ministers' approval for the Cambs and Peterborough body means a late-starting rival bid from Suffolk, covering the whole of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, has been strangled at birth. Cambridgeshire business leaders were furious that they had not even been consulted before the East Anglia bid was submitted, effectively in their name.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Horizons, the not-for-profit company set up by central and local government to deliver £6billion infrastructure for a rapidly-growing county, said: “The mission of the GC GP LEP is to lead our area's growth to 100,000 significant businesses and create 160,000 new jobs by 2025 in an internationally-renowned low-carbon, knowledge-based economy.

“This clear ambition for our growing area requires a step change in business success, unlocking the ability of the private sector to create jobs, wealth and offset the impact of public sector job losses,” she added.

“The specific details of the structure and functions of the GC GP LEP will now be worked up by a private and public sector partnership group, in conjunction with officials from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government over the coming weeks.

John Bridge, chairman of the LEP project board, said: “This news is clearly a very positive step as we collectively strive towards growth for our economic area. The publication of the Local Growth White Paper will hopefully mean that we are in a position to truly drive our vision forward, and for local authorities, higher education, and business to continue to work together to maximise the opportunities that this partnership will bring.”

Councillor Jill Tuck, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “One of our main priories is to ensure the continued prosperity of our communities. This new LEP will help support the growth of small and large businesses as well as the creation of new companies.

“It will help bring jobs and funding to Cambridgeshire as well as the chance to provide much-needed infrastructure and facilities for residents. By working together, local businesses, public authorities and universities will be ensuring the area is best placed to secure the investment needed to grow our local economy.”