Investment, Not Grants, Says Chief Exec Of Scilly and Cornwall LEP

Sandra Rothwell

Sandra Rothwell

THE Local Enterprise Partnership boss says the loans rather than grants could be the way forward for future project funding on the islands.

Sandra Rothwell, who has been visiting the islands this week, says the money needs to be invested strategically as it’ll probably be the last big pot of EU funding to be given to the area.

And it’s a good opportunity to think differently about how that money could make a difference, she says.

Last year, it was confirmed that Cornwall and Scilly had failed to meet the European growth criteria and will continue to be treated as a ‘convergence’ region, meaning they’ll likely get another six years of development funding.

From Radio Scilly

Sandra Rothwell talks to Radio Scilly about the Local Enterprise Partnership

Sandra says the LEP was formed 18 months ago to look in a more ‘private sector’ way about the economic problems facing the region. They only have a small budget and staff, but she says their importance in delivering the government’s economic plans is growing more than they ever realised when they were being set up.

And they’re likely to have a big role in the next EU funding scheme. It’s a real opportunity for the private sector to say what they feel will make a difference, says Sandra.

Even though Scilly is small in relation to Cornwall, it’s an important part of the LEP’s strategy and recent visits to the islands have given them a very clear view of the specific issues facing us.

Sandra says the resilience of the transport infrastructure always comes top of the agenda, while some businesses here also want better access to investment funding and loans. She says the LEP wants to know what investments need to be made in Scilly over the next six years.

With the LEP’s growing relationship with central government, there might also be a chance for them to influence big funding decisions like the St Mary’s quay project, although Sandra wouldn’t be drawn on whether they would support hard surfacing at Land’s End airport.

She said that would depend on a very clear business case being put to them, which takes into account the whole transport infrastructure across the region.