It is early days for Local Enterprise Partnerships. And I wish them well.
But the early signs are that they are made up, more or less, of the usual suspects, working in the usual ways, making the usual assumptions – and may produce the usual results.
So following conversation with a few people who seemed to share these concerns and expressed an interest, here is The Alternative LEP. A place where the usual and not so usual suspects can share ideas, work in unusual ways, explore the potential of starting from fresh assumptions and discuss the kind of economic and regeneration activities that might be developed as a result.
What if LEPs:
- worked to ensure that the economy existed to serve people (all of us) instead of us existing to serve it?
- refused to look at the economy in isolation but as one part of a much wider system including people and the environment?
- really embraced the debate around the challenges of continued economic growth and its impact on the environment – instead of presenting economic growth as entirely a good thing?
- explored and developed enterprise as a quality of communities, localities and people instead of focussing on old school economic measures such as GDP?
- focused on investment in local people and communities rather than attracting investors from elsewhere – a preference for economic gardening over economic hunting
- recognised the historical failure of such organisations to successfully plan the economy and provide the infrastructure required – and instead of trying to ‘take charge of the local economy’, ‘facilitated local enterprise’?
- understood that we can’t ‘develop’ economies or communities. But we can help people to develop – and people are great at building both community and the economy – given the chance
If we started from these assumptions perhaps we would commission some very different activity…