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By Ian Dipple Thursday 10 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 13:03
HANDING businesses control of more than £7billion of funding could create thousands of new jobs in Bromsgrove and Redditch in future years.
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has been chosen to pilot the economic recommendations outlined in Lord Heseltine's No Stone Unturned report, which will see money given directly to the regions rather than being spent from London.
In effect it means businesses and public sector organisations which make up the LEP - including Bromsgrove District Council - will have more power to spend money on supporting businesses, investing in infrastructure and developing skills in the area to drive growth and create jobs.
It potentially offers another route to revive the LEPs plans for an enterprise belt in the city region which was turned down by the Government in favour of creating Enterprise Zones in other areas of the country. It could have created up to 5,000 new jobs in and around Bromsgrove and Redditch.
Projects which will be looked at include re-routing the A38 at Longbridge.
It is estimated the Greater Birmingham LEP could be able to bid from a pot of about £7.2billion, but the money will not be available until 2015 at the earliest. The LEP is now working with Lord Heseltine on a three month review, which will examine how to implement the idea.
Coun Roger Hollingworth, who represents Bromsgrove and Redditch on the LEP board, said it was a massive opportunity to shift power from Whitehall to those better placed to make decisions locally.
"It's a very positive thing and in effect puts us in charge but it is very early at the moment and will be quite slow to sort out and it will be two years before we see any of the money," he said.
"Instead of having to go to the Government all of the time for money, we will be able to administer it from here and we will be making the decisions about how and where it gets spent.
"We are going to start working now on looking at where we could spend the money as 2015 will come very quickly and, especially if it's a major project, it will take time to put everything in place."
Andy Street, LEP chairman, added: "The LEP and Heseltine share the determination to accelerate the rate of growth in this region.
"The onus is now on us, over the next three months, to demonstrate further that we can maximise the potential of this important opportunity.
"It is an opportunity we are determined to seize."
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