Mark Whitehead 25 June 2018

LEPs 'failing' rural communities, says campaign group

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have been accused of having a negative effect on the countryside.

A survey by the Campaign to Protect Rural England also found most people think LEPs are much more likely to invest in already wealthy areas than those needing support.

The business-led partnerships may be entrenching inequalities within and between English regions rather than removing them, according to CPRE.

It says many LEPs are failing rural communities by ignoring their economic potential, as well as social and environmental needs.

The report also suggests that there is a lack of public awareness of LEPs and a failure by the partnerships to engage with the public.

Only one in five LEP websites appeared to clearly provide evidence of their economic activity and less than a quarter held public meetings.

The CPRE says LEPs should be required to publish a rural plan, prioritise investment in sustainable public transport and introduce robust transparency and accountability measures.

Paul Miner of the CPRE said: ‘Too often LEPs are remote, back developments that will happen anyway, and are not doing enough to support rural regeneration.

'Rural businesses, including small farms, account for almost a quarter of all registered businesses in England – their importance to our economy cannot be ignored any more.'

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