Concerns at partnership’s growth plans

The centre of Milton Keynes in all its glory!
The centre of Milton Keynes in all its glory!

SMALL businesses are raising questions over the strategy of a new partnership of the public and private sectors.

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) was set up last year with the aim of providing the best way of helping the private sector to grow and create jobs.

But at a meeting at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton last month, differences of opinion on the way forward began to emerge.

One employer said: “Small businesses like mine which are based here want to have a say. If the economy goes wrong, the 300 people I employ go down the tube.”

Other small businesses represented at the event said SEMLEP was becoming a club of men in suits and a body that would not look to invest in companies with high growth potential.

There were no women or representatives of ethnic minority businesses on the panel of the high profile event

But Rod Calvert, of Bedfordshire and Luton Chamber of Commerce said there had already been a lot of discussion about SEMLEP’s strategy.

SEMLEP has put in bids of £13million for improvements at M1 junction 10A, £3million for high growth innovation support, £4million for Silverstone and £5million for the east-west rail link western section.