The chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), David Frost CBE, is to stand down.
For the last five years, he has championed enterprise, skills and economic growth across the city and county, overseeing tens of millions of pounds of investment and the creation of thousands of jobs.
David was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident earlier this year. He has decided to stand down with immediate effect a few months earlier than the official end of his second and final three-year term as chairman, to aid his steady recovery to full health.
The search is now underway for a successor to ensure the LEP keeps bringing together employers, local government and education providers to strengthen and grow the local economy. The LEP vice-chair Alun Rogers will oversee LEP activities in the interim.
David Frost said:
The LEP is at a critical stage in its development, with a new chair and board to be recruited and an industrial strategy to be implemented.
It is essential that the LEP has a chair that can devote all of their time to guiding it through this next phase of development.
However, it is sadly clear to me that my recovery from a serious motorcycle accident in the summer has still some way to go and I am unable to devote the necessary energy to the LEP. I have therefore agreed with the board that it would be best if I stepped down with immediate effect.
My term of office was due to finish in early 2020 and the LEP is clearly in good hands. Much has been achieved over the last five years, with the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone being a particular highlight. My overall memory will be of an area where the private and public sectors continue to work for the good of the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.”
Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
Over the last five years David has worked tirelessly to bring business and public sector leaders together, and to lobby Government for the funding and freedoms we need to create the right conditions for economic growth and job creation across the whole of Staffordshire.
In that time the LEP has secured tens of millions of pounds of funding to invest in business sites, transport improvements and skills programmes that will leave a legacy of opportunity and increased prosperity for employers and local people.
I know this has been a difficult decision for David, but one that everyone involved with the LEP fully understands and supports. We hope he makes a speedy recovery and can continue using his skills and experience to support enterprise and employers across Staffordshire and the Midlands Engine for many years to come.”
Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, added:
Under David’s stewardship, the LEP has made key investments into some of the biggest and most positive transformational projects in the city. This includes supporting the huge success of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone which has secured 2,000 jobs in its first two years, and the soon-to-be-developed Etruria Valley Link Road, a major multi-million-pound scheme that will unlock a significant area of brownfield land for development.
While Stoke-on-Trent’s economic picture continues to improve – we’re the 10th fastest growing economy ‘per capita’ outside of London and are forecast to continue to be the fourth fastest growing city for employment growth 12 months from now – David has also been instrumental in bringing LEP support to projects that have helped to change perceptions of the city. This has included being part of our pitch team for both our shortlisted U.K. City of Culture 2021 and Channel 4 Creative Hub bids, as well as supporting initiatives around the growing digital and creative sectors within the city.
I’d like to thank David for his support and commitment to Stoke-on-Trent and join colleagues in wishing him a swift and full recovery.”
Prior to joining the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, Mr Frost was Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, representing the interests of 100,000 businesses across the nation. He was awarded a CBE for services to business and went on to chair the LEP Network, representing the 38 LEPs across England.