Governance and Transparency
The LEP is responsible for determining the key investment priorities to which public funds are directed in order to implement its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).
Governance Assurance Statement
As a private company (limited by guarantee) we operate in accordance with the Companies Act 2006; this provides a format with which our directors will be familiar as business leaders, and dictates standards of governance and behaviour demanded by the Act. This helps to mitigate any lack of clarity that might otherwise arise from the somewhat unusual construct of ‘LEPs’.
Our Articles of Association (“Articles”) set the parameters of our membership, with the aim of creating as balanced as possible a representation of the local environment in which we operate. The LEP’s private sector and community sector directors & representatives are selected through an open, transparent and non-discriminatory competition, which assesses each candidate on merit. In order to advertise vacancies a cascade approach is used, utilising both traditional methods and social media, and the diversity and geographic base of candidates is reviewed at the short-listing stage. The remaining directors and sector representatives are nominated by their respective sectors, and the arrangements for this are set out in our Articles.
We also assist the recruitment of new volunteers by informing our extensive network: we have undergone significant churn in the last year as directors and representatives’ terms of office have come to an end. This has proved entirely positive as it brings new ideas and energy to the LEP, thereby avoiding stagnancy of ideas, and ensures that we are not a ‘club’ for a select few.
A key strength of our governance structure is the role of the LEP Forum. It provides rigorous oversight of the LEP, and challenges, scrutinizes and ratifies decisions made or recommended by the Board. It has the power to ‘call in’ decisions if at least four members of the Forum apply to do so. The Forum includes a representative from each unitary authority who can vote on behalf of that authority when making decisions.
The LEP has retained the Berkshire Local Transport Body (BLTB) as the competent body to prioritise and implement transport capital schemes on our behalf. These represent a major proportion of our total disbursements. The Body consists of six elected members and six private sector representatives, the latter recruited and appointed by the LEP. It oversees the work of independent assessors that scrutinise transport schemes in accordance with a DfT-approved Assurance Framework. The BLTB operates in public as a Joint Committee and thus offers a further mechanism for scrutiny of the LEP’s processes.
Our own Assurance Framework complies with the National Assurance Framework and the government’s best practice guidance. An explanation of our decision-making process is publicly available on our (this) website, in narrative and diagrammatic forms.
We are also introducing a publicly held Annual General Meeting in order to increase visibility of the LEP’s decision making process to the general public. A further level of scrutiny and oversight is provided by the proximity of our relationship with our Accountable Body.
Taken in cohort, we consider that all of these well-established practices and procedures operate to ensure that there are no obvious shortcomings in our approach to governance.