Owl thinks that our Local Enterprise Partnership’s contact details need a wider audience, especially as its CEO, Chris Garcia, has just had a 26% salary increase as it must be a VERY IMPORTANT organisation.
We know from Devon County Council that it has 4 full-time officers ( though we have no idea where they are based) and “a few” part-time employees ( though it does employ a lot of consultants).
We also know that its books are kept and audited by Somerset County Council – though they are not available for public inspection or scrutiny.
Here is a list from their web presence of how you can contact them – there is also a web contact form. But note they do not pick up their snail-mail very often – not good news for anyone they owe money to who sends them a paper bill ( perhaps because they have no rural broadband where they live, for example):
“You can contact us in the following ways:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By telephone: 01935 385977 – The LEP’s reception service is provided by Yeovil Innovation Centre, supported by South Somerset District Council. Our partners who provide this service will forward any messages to the relevant contacts at the LEP.
Contact Helena Davison, LEP Communications Manager
Telephone: 07525 806333
Inward investment enquiries
Contact Julia Stuckey, LEP Inward Investment Manager
Contact by post
Heart of the South West LEP, PO Box 805, Exeter, EX1 9UU
(Please note this PO Box is not regularly monitored and email contact is the recommended way of communicating with HotSW LEP.)”
Perhaps you could lead by example and have an “about us” for East Devon Watch naming your editor/contributors?
Contact Owl at email@example.com
We are legion
Owl is (regrettably) not paid more than £100,000 a year by the taxpayers of Devon and so may do as it pleases, its operation costing the taxpayer absolutely mothing.
There are some things that are fundamental to democracy. For example, taxpayers should be confident that their money is spent as their elected representatives intended, that there are robust mechanisms in place to ensure there are no conflicts of interest in its distribution and that ultimately the expenditure is scrutinised for value for money.
Heart of the South West LEP has now been given responsibility by the government for distributing substantial Regional Growth Funds. In the 2010 White Paper that set this process up, we were told LEPs would be directly accountable to local people and local businesses. They are clearly not.
Here are two paragraphs from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report June 2016 (HC 296) that spell this out.
“25. As LEPs have the potential to give business leaders significant influence over decisions on how public money is used, it is essential that their decision-making is transparent to the public and free of perceived or actual conflicts of interest. In December 2014 government set out the standards of governance, transparency and decision-making that they expect of LEPs. This was an important step in safeguarding taxpayers’ money, particularly in light of the sums involved in the recently negotiated Growth Deals and the increase in the scale of LEP activity. However, the Department did not test whether LEPs were meeting the required standards before the first round of Growth Deals was paid out to them, and the NAO’s [National Audit Office] review showed there are significant gaps in LEPs’ compliance with the standards expected.”
“26. The NAO’s review shows, for example, that 42% of LEPs do not publish a register of interest, and 16% do not even publish a conflict of interest policy. The Department told us that many LEPs do have registers of interest but that these may not be published. It is therefore unclear how the public are supposed to take assurance that LEP decisions are being made with probity. Furthermore, the Federation of Small Business told us that there is a lack of rigour in the production of annual accounts by LEPs…….”
On value for money the NAO in their latest progress report on Regional Growth (2014) found more than three quarters of the fund set up to boost regional economies remained unspent (£2.6bn allocated in Rounds one to four, but only £492m had so far actually reached projects and £425 million was being held by programme intermediaries (of which £10 million was for administration)). The estimate of the average cost per net additional job of bids selected in round four had increased to £52,300. This compares with £30,400 in the first round. Their general conclusion was that this expenditure was not optimising value for money. NAO (2016) has also pointed out that LEPs do not yet have an established track record of delivery.