The beleaguered Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairman Mark Reeve and Chief Executive Neil Darwin have made damning allegations against Cambridgeshire County Council over the lack of progress on Wisbech Rail.
The LEP allege that the County Council ignored the LEP on Wisbech Rail for over a year, however they managed to produce action within a week of my speech to the Wisbech 2020 conference on 13th January this year.
The claims are remarkable; the County Council is the accountable body of the LEP. They raise serious questions over the governance of the unelected LEP given it is making serious unsubstantiated claims against the body it is answerable to for the spending of millions of pounds.
This matters because delays to Wisbech Rail have a significant impact on economic regeneration and jobs in Fenland, and because in April this year the LEP is due to receive a further £38 million from the Government.
Concerns with the governance of the LEP are growing. Stewart Jackson, the Member of Parliament for Peterborough, questioned the record of the LEP in the House of Commons last Thursday. His question to the Leader of the Commons can be found here.
Wisbech Rail continues to have strong Government support, and yesterday I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, updating him on the scheme following our recent discussions. A copy of my letter can be found here. The LEP and County Council need to capitalise on the support from Ministers if the scheme is to secure further funding.
The transcript below is from my meeting with Mr Reeve and Mr Darwin, during which these allegations against the County Council were made. It was transcribed for me last week by a firm that undertakes the same role for Parliamentary Select Committees. I have redacted the name of the official blamed by the LEP for over a year of unnecessary delays on Wisbech Rail.