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Ensuring a legacy of positive impact for the Heart of the South West

Written by David Ralph, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West LEP

Whilst we work to maintain the delivery of key projects, transition planning is dominating our thinking at the Heart of the South West LEP.

As we evaluate the proposed transition plans from the Councils, our path remains clear: we aim to transfer the functions of the LEP to the four upper-tier Local Authorities; namely Plymouth, Somerset, Devon, and Torbay, in an orderly way that is of greatest benefit to our communities.

The Local Authorities plan to oversee the functions through three ‘Economic Growth Boards’. As part of this transition, legacy funding and responsibilities from the LEP will shift to these Boards. They are set to revise their economic strategies in the coming months. This period will be crucial for our Board Directors as they contemplate any future role of our company.

Our primary goal is to ensure the seamless and purposeful allocation of funds, adhering to the initial objectives they were granted, and deploying funds to benefit our region holistically. This means driving clean and inclusive growth, increasing productivity, and ultimately improving the lives of people and communities. As a Community Interest Company, our mandate is clear: we must engage in activities that benefit the community, particularly those that foster economic growth and prosperity in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth, and Torbay. Our objective is to ultimately create sustainable and better-quality jobs.

A LEP is a gateway for investing in regional projects that yield widespread benefits. As a CIC, it’s crucial that these benefits reach the entire Heart of the South West community, rather than select partners. Throughout this transition, we are dedicated to ensuring that our responsibilities are managed with precision and care, and that they are passed on appropriately.

Securing funding for economic growth is likely to become more challenging. Therefore, ensuring that we get maximum value from our investments is a local priority – and a national one. In this context, the Board has conducted a thorough evaluation of our programmes’ impact and their potential future contributions, particularly as funded infrastructure projects begin to yield housing and jobs. We’re excited to publish these reports very soon, as they highlight the LEP’s significant role in driving productivity, creating jobs, growing our economy, and supporting our businesses and communities over the past decade.

The LEP has been a force for positive change over the past 10 years, and through this devolution we hope that will continue well into the future.


Comprised of business leaders from across our key sectors, the LEP Board oversees the programme of infrastructure, business support and skills projects being delivered by 2025.

Find out more about our board >

LEP board meetings & documents >

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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.