Essex CC has called for the creation of its own Greater Essex Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), following cross-party support for the motion.
Council members have highlighted ‘the need for quicker and more local decision-making, and the potential benefits for the wider Essex economy’.
Essex, along with Kent and East Sussex, is currently covered by the South East LEP area. Transport Network sources have said the size of this LEP, together with the significance of the councils involved, makes it unwieldy and difficult for strategic planning as one body.
Leader of Essex CC, Cllr David Finch, said: ‘While we recognise the importance and good work of the LEPs, the scale and geography of the South East LEP (SELEP), covering Harwich to Brighton and Saffron Walden to Ramsgate is large.
‘We have seen some benefits, such as recent transport infrastructure investment, but there is a clear message from business that the creation of a Greater Essex LEP (GELEP) would allow for more effective strategic investment.’
The move follows comments in the last parliament by former secretary of state and local MP for Brentwood and Ongar, Sir Eric Pickles, suggesting the 39 LEPs could be rationalised to better suit economic geographies.
However the current communities secretary, Greg Clark, has appeared to dismiss the idea of reshaping boundaries or cutting numbers.
In a statement Essex said the proposed GELEP would be ‘business led, focusing on key growth corridors and natural markets which are already well recognised within Essex’.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex CC cabinet member for economic growth and infrastructure added: 'With existing and established growth corridors and sub-economies such as Heart of Essex, South Essex, Haven Gateway and West Essex, we have strong existing local partnership structures, and the creation of the GELEP would give the opportunity to focus on key areas such as job growth, developing infrastructure, improving skills and encouraging international trade.
‘We are pleased to endorse the Greater Essex Business Board in submitting a case to government for a Greater Essex LEP.’
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: 'Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) bring great benefits for hard working people in delivering jobs and growth to their local areas. LEPs are voluntary partnerships, and are free to put forward proposals to change their boundaries, and it is important that the views of all local partners in the area are heard, reflecting the views of local taxpayers and businesses.
'We look forward to hearing more about Essex County Council’s proposals in due course.”