1. PURPOSE, OBJECTS AND PRINCIPLES
1.1. Role of the Local Enterprise Partnership
1.1.1. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) is a strategic body, which brings together the public and private sectors to support economic growth in its constituent areas.
1.1.2. It shall:
a) Progress priorities of cross-border economic importance where there is real synergy and added value in working together;
b) Support the conditions through which a more creative, responsive and flexible working relationship can exist between business and government at all levels;
c) Seek resources, freedoms and flexibilities to progress strategic growth priorities; and
d) Operate in the spirit of transparency, openness and collaboration to support the public interest.
1.1.3. In pursuit of this role, the LEP may act to bring together intelligence, expertise and community and business support to identify priorities and develop solutions to maximise the LEP area’s economic opportunities and address barriers to growth.
1.2. Legal status
1.2.1. The LEP is an informal partnership. It does not have legal status to enter into contracts and will act through one of its county/unitary local authority partners as Accountable body.
1.3.1. The LEP operates on the principle of subsidiarity. This means that decisions should be taken at the practical level closest to the communities and businesses affected by those decisions.
1.3.2. The LEP therefore:
a) Only considers priorities consistent with 1.1 above; and
b) Devolves responsibility for local prioritisation, funding and delivery to local partners as appropriate.
1.3.3. The LEP does not seek to establish a uniform sub-structure. Rather it recognises that partners may come together in a variety of forms to address particular issues; that these may change over time; and that this dynamism is part of the LEP’s success.
2.1.1. The LEP shall be governed by the SE LEP Strategic Board.
2.2. Local Enterprise Partnership Strategic Board
2.2.1. The LEP Board shall be responsible for:
a. setting the strategic direction and priorities of the LEP;
b. satisfying themselves that the business plan is in accordance with the strategic direction and that the milestones are sufficiently ambitious;
c. considering and agreeing a position on major items of strategic importance;
d. monitoring performance of the operations and activities of the LEP;
e. ensuring that funds delegated or assigned to the LEP for investment, where the Board has determined a method of allocation, are being implemented to best effect on behalf of government; and
f. deciding how the activities of the LEP should be delegated.
Additionally, the SE LEP Strategic Board should take a leading role in:
a. Providing strategic leadership in agreeing SE LEP’s overarching strategic vision and priorities (ie Strategic Economic Plan)
b. Championing the SE LEP area as a whole where appropriate for growth and jobs
c. Supporting pan-LEP activity on SEFUND, Rural and Coastal regeneration, U9 Universities activity, CORE, priority sectors as appropriate (eg Creative) and the Growth Deal
d. Using the scale and influence of the LEP to promote and communicate shared priorities to Government and those of local importance.
The LEP Strategic Board shall also establish in partnership with the county/unitary authorities a SE LEP Accountability Board to become the main performance management structure within the LEP. Working closely with local area accountability arrangements, the SE LEP Accountability Board will provide the accountability structure for decision-making and approval funding within the overarching vision of the Board which will satisfy the accountability processes for the Accountable Body.
The membership and terms of reference of the SE LEP Accountability Board shall become an Appendix to this paper.
LEP Board membership
2.2.2. The LEP Board shall be constituted as follows:
a) The Chair of the LEP Board (in addition to the representatives below);
b) 5 business representatives from Essex, Southend & Thurrock;
c) 4 business representatives from Kent and Medway;
d) 3 business representatives from East Sussex;
e) 5 local government representatives from Essex, Southend & Thurrock, of which 3 must be from Thames Gateway South Essex;
f) 4 local government representatives from Kent and Medway;
g) 3 local government representatives from East Sussex;
h) 1 representative of the higher education sector;
i) 1 representative of the further education and skills sector.
2.2.3. Each of the areas shall determine their own processes for the selection and term of office of their representatives.
2.2.4. The process for selecting representatives from business and local government shall be determined within each of the areas. The process for selecting the HE/ FE representatives shall be determined by the HE/FE sectors.
2.2.5. The LEP Board shall have a private sector Chair.
2.2.6. The chair shall be appointed by the Board, with their performance subject to annual review.
2.2.7. Duties of the Chair will be:
a) to chair and ensure the smooth and effective operation of the Board;
b) to lead on the development of strategy;
c) to participate in the appointment of and directly manage the Director of the LEP bringing any significant performance or staffing issues to the attention of the Board and the accountable body;
d) to ensure the secretariat is operating effectively and within its mandate, that budgets are appropriately applied and that proper policies and processes are in place and observed;
e) to ensure effective liaison with all constituents of the LEP and government and to undertake representation / communication / lobbying activity as required according to the business plan or emerging strategies or needs; and
f) to comply with any reporting requirements of the accountable body.
2.2.8. The Board will have three vice-chairs, one each covering Essex, Southend & Thurrock; Kent & Medway; and East Sussex. The vice-chairs will be drawn from the private sector and will be determined by each of the three areas.
Representation and attendance
2.2.9. It is important that attendance at the LEP Board is at a consistent and senior level. For local authorities, this will normally be at Leader level or equivalent.
2.2.10. Each member of the Board can name one alternate to attend in his / her place who is authorised to take decisions on his / her behalf. Alternates from local authorities shall be elected members or a representative of the Leader mandated to take decisions.
2.2.11. For the Board to be quorate at least 14 members must be present. Of these at least 3 representatives must be from the 6 county/unitary councils. In addition there must also be 1 business representative from each of the areas of: Essex, Southend & Thurrock; Kent 7 Medway; and East Sussex.
2.2.12. Only members of the Board or their alternates may sit at the meeting table and vote. Others may attend and take part by the invitation of the Chair.
2.2.13. Officers and members of bodies participating in the LEP but not invited to attend and participate may attend as observers. The number of observers may be limited at the discretion of the Chair.
2.2.14. Meetings of the Board are open to the press and public as observers, with the exception of any items that should be treated confidentially for commercial or other reasons. Filming or recording of proceedings need to be agreed in advance with the Secretariat.
2.2.15. The Board shall operate on the basis of consensus.
2.2.16. In the event that a consensus cannot be achieved on a matter requiring decision, that decision shall be taken by vote and carried if it is supported by over 50% of those present. All matters to be considered for decision must have been circulated in writing to all members of the Board at least 2 clear working days before the meeting. No decision can be taken without notice having been given.
2.2.17. In the event that a decision is required outside of a scheduled meeting, the Chair may decide to hold an Extraordinary Meeting. Such meetings shall be coordinated by the Secretariat, and shall operate according to the provisions of paragraph 2.2.16.
2.2.18. Alternatively, the Chair may decide to seek agreement to a proposal via Electronic Procedure. In such cases, the Secretariat shall write to each Board member requesting agreement to a specified course of action. Board Members shall be given no fewer than five working days to respond to the Secretariat. For a decision to be made, the provisions of paragraph 2.2.16 shall apply. For a decision to be taken by Electronic Procedure, the number of members participating and the composition of those members must be as required for a quorate meeting. Over 50% of members responding to the request must indicate agreement to the proposal.
2.2.19. All decisions made by Electronic Procedure shall be ratified at the next scheduled meeting of the Board.
Meetings and papers
2.2.20. The Board will meet 3-4 times a year. A calendar of future meetings will be set for a year at a time.
2.2.21. The agenda and papers for meetings shall be approved by the Chair and issued at least 5 working days in advance of the meeting.
2.2.22. The agenda and papers shall be disseminated by the Secretariat, with the agreement of the Chair. Board members wishing to propose items for the agenda should contact the Secretariat. Final papers for Board discussion shall be made available on the LEP website as soon as they are disseminated to the Board, except for papers which are not suitable for release into the public domain for example due to them containing personal information about individuals or commercially sensitive data.
2.2.23. Minutes of meetings of the Board shall be approved in draft form by the Chair and disseminated to Board members no later than ten working days following the meeting. Minutes shall remain in draft until approval by the Board at the Board’s next meeting.
2.2.24. Minutes shall be made publicly available on the LEP website no more than five working days following approval by the Board, except for minutes which are not suitable for release into the public domain for example due to them containing personal information about individuals or commercially sensitive data. Any minutes which are not released into the public domain will be stored confidentially by the secretariat.
Conflicts of interest
2.2.25. The Board shall ensure that all conflicts of interest are fully disclosed.
2.2.26. The Secretariat shall maintain a Register of Board Members’ Interests. This shall include all company directorships, trusteeships, elected offices, remunerated posts and other relevant interests. The Register of Board Members’ Interests shall be made available to any interested party at any time. Board members shall supply information to the Secretariat for inclusion in the register, or a nil return, on joining the Board, in response to any request for an update and on becoming aware of any new interest. The secretariat will circulate a request for information about interests annually.
2.2.27. Should a Board Member’s interests change, s/he shall inform the Secretariat at the earliest opportunity.
2.2.28. Should an issue be discussed by the Board which presents a conflict of interest to a Board member, the Board Member shall declare the conflict of interest, regardless of whether s/he has previously declared the interest in the Register of Board Members’ Interests. Such declarations shall be minuted. A Conflict of Interest may pertain to the interest of a partner, family member, close friend or organisation associated with a Board member. For example if a partner, family member or close friend may be affected by a decision (to a greater extent than the majority of Council tax payers in the area will be affected) then the member should declare an interest and abstain from discussion and may be asked to withdraw at the Chairman’s discretion. If the member is associated with an organisation (other than a local authority) as employee, director, contractor, trustee, member or shareholder and that organisation may be particularly affected by a decision then that board member should withdraw from any discussion and may not vote on the matter.
2.2.29. Board Members shall not vote or participate in discussions on any issues on which they have registered an interest.
2.2.30. The Board may initiate task and finish groups to undertake work to further the Board’s objectives. Such groups must have clear terms of reference agreed with the Chair, shall be fully accountable to the Board and shall cease operation when their work is complete. Each sub group must have both elected council member and business representation or involvement.
2.2.34. Within this framework, the Board may agree sub-committees such as that for an investment fund, establish technical working groups to support activities and recognise linked sector or geographical groupings which support the LEP’s ambitions and operation.
3. SECRETARIAT AND ADMINISTRATION
3.1.1. The Board shall appoint a Secretariat. The Secretariat shall consist of one or more named individuals with specific responsibility for:
a) ensuring the efficient administration of the Board;
b) ensuring the Board operate within their terms of reference;
c) providing information and support to the Chair;
d) monitoring work commissioned by the Board and reporting on progress to the Board;
e) co-ordinating the production of papers and agenda items, in liaison with the officer Support Group (see Section 3.2);
f) managing communications activity on behalf of the LEP;
g) undertaking such tasks as directed by the Board, Chair and Vice Chairs;
h) ensuring compliance with Financial Regulations of the Accountable Body;
i) ensuring that an appropriate process is followed for setting of budgets and preparation of accounts within the LEP which are approved by the accountable body; and
j) Reporting to the Accountable Body as required by it.
The secretariat will be employed by an upper tier local authority and will work within the policies and procedures of the employing body.
3.1.2. The costs of the Secretariat and any financial liabilities of the accountable body resulting from being the accountable body of the LEP shall be borne equitably between the six upper tier authorities using population figures as the basis for calculating their contribution. Financial contribution towards secretariat costs may be used as a contribution to match funding made available from government or other sources and should be agreed annually.
3.2. Senior Officer Group
3.2.1 The Secretariat shall be supported by a Senior Officer Group (SOG). The SOG shall consist of officers employed by LEP Board member organisations (presently usually one from each of the county/unitary authorities but other officers may also participate from time to time), and shall be responsible for preparing papers as required, undertaking specific pieces of work as mandated by the Board or Executive Group.
3.2.2 The SOG shall be convened by the Secretariat according to business need. It shall have no fixed membership, and may expand or contract over time.
3.2.3 The SOG shall have no decision-making powers. It exists purely to expedite the business of the LEP and to provide support and advice to the Secretariat.
3.3.1 The Board shall operate on the basis of transparency, openness and good communications.
3.3.2 The Board shall be responsible for the LEP’s communications strategy. This shall include communications to Board members, participating organisations and the wider public and shall include the maintenance of an up-to-date, relevant and accessible website. The Secretariat shall be responsible for implementation of the communications strategy.
4 AMENDMENTS TO TERMS OF REFERENCE
4.1 The Board may amend these terms of reference at any time, according to the procedure in paragraph 2.2.16.
Amendments were agreed by the Board in December 2014 to establish the SE LEP Accountability Framework. They were previously amended in December 2013 and agreed by the SE LEP Board on 14th February, 2014. (These replace those drafted September 2012 and agreed by SE LEP Full Board on 12th October 2012 and the Governance & Terms of Reference agreed at the Interim SE LEP Board Meeting 14th March 2011).