Mr Clegg will visit the Town Hall to help launch the new Sheffield Local Enterprise Partnership, introduced at last night’s meeting of the full council. The LEP is intended as a replacement for regional development agency Yorkshire Forward which is to be abolished.
He will also meet with local MPs, councillors and business and voluntary group leaders for the Sheffield First Partnership leadership summit at Mercure St. Pauls Hotel.
At last night’s meeting, Cllr Scriven, who has been involved in the founding of the LEP, said he hoped the replacement of Yorkshire Forward with a more private sector inclusive project would remove beaurocracy and stimulate growth.
He said, “If this city is going to move forward over the next ten years that growth is going to have to come from the private sector. That means that his city is going to have to be business friendly, it’s going to have to be business smart and it’s going to have to have a vision about how it works for or with business.
“It’s not going to be about Town Hall knows best, it’s going to be about the business working with the council and different councils working throughout Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, to actually get the right kind of approach.”
The proposals were largely welcomed by both sides of the chamber, although Labour councillors stopped short of giving the plans their full support. Cllr Tony Damms pointed out that some in the private sector are reluctant to get involved.
“They’re against it because they don’t feel they’ve been consulted” he said, “and they think it’s a bit rich to call on a set of proposals as major as these, and claim that the business community’s on side when they’ve not even been asked. They’ve been ignored.”
He went on to voice uncertainty about whether the LEP would be the shot in the arm that Mr Scriven says it will, “We don’t feel we can support the scrapping of the regional development agencies, such as Yorkshire Forward, and their replacement with the Local Enterprise Partnerships, because we don’t know how they will work.” He said, “We don’t know if it will stimulate the economy, and we don’t know if it’ll prioritise certain things that won’t help this city. We might be worse off with this option.”