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Message from the editor | Issue 02 | June 14

When Lord Heseltine published his No Stone Unturned report in October 2012 and its recommendations for helping the UK economy back into growth, he was quite aware that his views might be seen by many as challenging.

Central to his thought was devolving more power and resources to local regions – giving those closest to the “obstacles to growth” the tools and resources to use “limited public money to leverage greater additionality from the private sector”.

The aim was to move local authorities from being simply service providers to become partners with central government, agents for innovation and drivers of growth.

Nearly two years on we see the start of Heseltine’s vision about to take shape – albeit in a slightly pared back form in terms of the actualcash being devolved. Next month considerable amounts of once central funding will be divvied up across the regions and should, as per the vision, enable even greater amounts of private funding to flow.

Central to the process, of course, is the network of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and, as Heseltine accepted during his recent interview at the ACE annual conference, many are indeed finding the path challenging.

As our analysis this week highlights, there is still too much mystery and confusion around the LEP process. And with a few exceptions, there is still too little “ambition” when it comes to the bids being submitted for funding. It is early days in this competitive process. There will be winners and, hopefully, there will be learning amongst the LEPs who do less well.

From our conversations with the successful LEPs, leadership is clearly fundamental when it comes to bridging the gulf between the public and private sector. It is critical therefore that infrastructure professionals do engage with this vital, potentially transformational process now.

As Heseltine said in his vision: “There is opportunity on a grand scale… England’s cities pulsing with energy – unleash it. Every one of us needs to rise to the challenge.”

Antony Oliver is the editor of Infrastructure Intelligence