Sir Peter Rigby is to be the new chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Sir Peter, one of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs, was voted in as chairman of the partnership – set-up by the government to boost the local economy – a fortnight ago but wanted time to see how his nomination was received by the business community.
But now Sir Peter, whose firm SCH is the largest privately-owned IT group in Europe and the fifth largest privately-owned company in the UK, has accepted the post and is relishing the challenge.
He said: “I have been involved in the LEP since day one and feel very strongly that it offers a real opportunity for this area to help build a stronger economy for the benefit of everyone.
“It has made a good start in several areas but there is a great deal of work to be done if we are to ensure that the LEP helps Coventry and Warwickshire realise its undoubted potential.
“I wanted time to see what the feedback of my possible appointment would be and I have been very encouraged by the level of support.
“The more I have become involved in Coventry and Warwickshire the more I have seen its economic potential, and am convinced that business has to play a major part in driving it forward
As I have become more involved in Coventry and Warwickshire my belief that it has a very positive economic outlook and that business has to play a part in driving that forward, has only grown.
“I was very pleased to be asked to be LEP chair and am more than happy to use my experience to help all parties achieve the common goals and aims they are striving towards.”
Sir Peter has outlined his plans for the LEP to fellow board members.
They include establishing a formal constitution for the LEP, moving to appoint a new and dedicated CEO, mobilising support and action from within the public sector at a local and national level and securing on-going finance for the LEP.
He is also keen to review the make-up of the board and reaffirm the LEPs goals.
He added: “Everyone around the boardroom table has a vested interest in the area. That is the nature of every LEP across the country, and of most boards in most businesses. The key thing is that they are managed properly.
“I see having a board which is fully engaged in the economy as only a positive thing.”
Sir Peter’s appointment was welcomed by Martyn Hollingsworth, CW LEP Board Member, and Director, Engineering Technical Services, at Jaguar Land Rover.
He said: “Following the very successful establishment of the CWLEP I am pleased to welcome Sir Peter as chair for a year.
“His skills and experience will help steer the LEP through the next phase of development to become a strong, independent, private sector-led body focused on creating jobs and opportunity in Coventry and Warwickshire.”
George Gillespie, CEO of MIRA and member of the LEP board, said: “It is very good news that Sir Peter wants to lead the LEP. LEPs are private sector-led organisations and Sir Peter is a figure of international standing in commerce and business.
“The fact that he wants to drive forward the aspirations and aims of Coventry and Warwickshire and is committed to helping the LEP be a key force will certainly give us added strength.
“Coventry and Warwickshire has undoubted potential but we have to actively ensure that is realised for the benefit of everyone. Building on the excellent work done so far, Sir Peter’s appointment will greatly help us succeed.”
John Mutton, Leader of Coventry City Council and vice-chairman of the LEP, said Sir Peter had won the backing of the private and public sector.
“The LEP board is made up of private and public sector representatives from across Coventry and Warwickshire and everyone voted for Sir Peter to chair the organisation,” he said.
“He has a wealth of experience at the very top level of business and is very determined for Coventry and Warwickshire to achieve the maximum possible.
“He has a clear vision for the future of the LEP and I think it is a very exciting time.”
Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby Borough Council and a LEP board member, said: “The board is delighted that Sir Peter has accepted. This is an exciting time for the LEP. Some firm foundations have been laid but it is now about real and tangible results.
“Sir Peter has built several highly successful businesses and that level of experience will be essential in driving through our aims for Coventry and Warwickshire.”
Alan Farnell, leader of Warwickshire County Council, and a LEP board member said: “The board unanimously voted in favour of Sir Peter taking the chair of the LEP and we are therefore delighted that he has agreed to take up the post.
“He will provide leadership, determination and drive – all qualities that we need to take the LEP forward to break down the barriers to growth and boost the region’s economy.”
Martin Yardley, Managing Director of the LEP, said: “Sir Peter is a very private man who never courts the limelight but he is taking on this role to move the LEP forward to help us achieve all we can for the economy of Coventry and Warwickshire. He has a clear vision which we want to drive forward.”
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