10.1 David Owen, Chief Executive of the GFirst LEP, took the report as read and added that the LEP had enjoyed a really excellent relationship with GCC as the Accountable Body for a number of years now. It effectively ensures the money of the LEP Board was being spent in the right way, and the Section 151 officer now attended the LEP Board meeting which was a positive step.
10.2 It was relatively unusual for LEP’s to have the level of engagement we have in Gloucestershire through different bodies such as the Health and Wellbeing Board, the City Region Board and Leadership Gloucestershire. This had a really positive impact on cross working throughout the county and allowed the LEP to have early understanding and engagement on economic growth issues.
10.3 A member raised concern regarding a project that had been awarded EU funding facilitated by the LEP that had not delivered what it had set out to. It was reassured that the LEP held all of its projects to account monthly, quarterly and annually in great detail, right from the beginning. The member was asked to contact the officer offline to look further into the specific project they were concerned about. The programme management group also met very regularly and a lot of its work focused on holding projects to account and dealing with any arising issues.
ACTION: Mally Findlater
Post meeting note: Following the meeting the member emailed the LEP with the details of the project she was asking about. It was confirmed that this was one funded under the EAFRD strand of ESIF funding. In this strand, the LEP has a very limited role in commenting on the strategic fit and value for money of projects that come forward for consideration. They do not select, fund or monitor any projects thereafter. This is done by MHCLG. Contact details were provided.
10.4 LEP officers asked for the Committee to provide a direction on what they would like to look into on this topic as there was a plethora of information that could be shared. The Chair confirmed that an executive summary would be useful on how the LEP performed over the last financial year with its allocated funding.
10.5 A member advised that a growing concern among many was the concept of ethical investing (which manifested itself in a philosophy called Economic Social Governance) i.e. people did not want their money being investment in fossil fuels for example. It was questioned whether this issue was on the LEP’s radar in terms of their partnership in projects and also encouraging other businesses in Gloucestershire to do the same.
10.6 In response, members noted that the LEP did not hold any money or directly invest any itself. The funding from Govt. for projects was held by the Accountable Body. The Board was however actively looking into how its decision making, and its ability to influence other businesses making their decisions, could be improved by further knowledge and understanding of the impacts. Going forward, this work would help better inform the LEP to make ethically and environmentally sound decisions.