South Holland District Council offices.

Concerns over council economic development outsourcing

Concerns have been raised over a proposal to let a Peterborough City Council body oversee economic development in the area.

South Holland District Council’s cabinet decided to discuss its proposal to outsource its economic development services to Opportunity Peterborough behind closed doors at its meeting on Tuesday after councillors expressed concerns.

The authority currently has an Inward Investment team that oversees local business networks and encourages businesses to invest in South Holland.

The district council is now looking to outsource the team’s work to Opportunity Peterborough, a private, not-for-profit organisation entirely owned by Peterborough City Council.

It currently also provides development economic service to Fenland and South Kesteven district councils.

The report to the cabinet says Opportunity Peterborough will be tasked with bringing 50 jobs to the area in the next two years and will lead promotion for the Food Enterprise Zone in Spalding and the Lincs Gateway and Clay Lake sites in Spalding.

However Coun Angela Newton told the meeting: “I think in principle it’s a good idea but I’m worried they will keep the good bits and give us the bits you spit out.

“I wonder where we would be in the pecking order.

“Surely if something fantastic comes in they will want to keep that in their area.”
Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader of the council, responded: “It’s very clear in the areas we are asking Opportunity Peterborough to deliver in. It’s clear what we want and what we are expecting out of it.

“In six months and 12 months we will be reviewing this and making sure they meet the targets we want them to.”

The council’s portfolio holder for finance, Coun Peter Coupland expressed his concerns at which point leader of the council and meeting chair Coun Gary Porter ordered that the matter be discussed with the public excluded due to financial issues being discussed.

A council spokesman confirmed the recommendation was subsequently passed.

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