Spotlight on our Board - 21 June 2024

Spotlight on our Board: Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber, on the D2N2 LEP transition and East Midlands devolution

PHOTO: Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber

Earlier this month, the D2N2 LEP team and functions transitioned into the East Midlands Combined County Authority (EMCCA).

We caught up with Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber and D2N2 LEP Board Member, and invited him to share his reflections on this move.

Scott said:

“The Chamber (then Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, prior to it forming East Midlands Chamber with Leicester and Leicestershire in 2013), was right there at the beginning of the LEP concept in 2010, becoming the ‘managing employer’ of D2N2 LEP, when for a while that was a single individual!

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have had an essential role in the last 14+ years, being a conduit for how funds have been deployed from the centre for use locally, to have the strongest impact on the greatest number of people and businesses, providing leverage and pump priming for capital projects that otherwise would not have happened, and providing a service to the wider public / private sector LEP partnership in regard to research and economic intelligence to ensure sound economic decisions are made with the limited funds from the centre into the two counties and cities of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Working very closely with the Chamber, on the delivery of the D2N2 Growth Hub, partnering with our world class universities, the private and voluntary sectors, D2N2 LEP has steered the business support landscape and pioneered enduring initiatives such as widespread decarbonisation plans for business, championed the development of skills strategies to address the acute skills shortage across the cities and counties and embraced the potential of hydrogen as a low carbon fuel source via East Midlands Hydrogen.

The capital projects supported by D2N2 LEP are legion – from essential transport infrastructure programmes, to addressing digital shortcomings in rural parts of the counties to supporting the development of the tourism and leisure offer for visitors.

The LEP team have worked superbly across this era, often invisible to some, to deliver true economic benefit for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

For decades, the Chamber and its members have made the point to successive governments and local politicians that the East Midlands receives a far smaller slice of the cake than other regions.

Treasury figures consistently show the East Midlands ranks either bottom, or near the bottom, for spending on transport infrastructure, health, education and economic matters when adjudged per head of population. We received just 60% of the UK average in transport spend for 2021/22, the lowest level of any UK region or nation and a gap worth £1.28bn per year.

The East Midlands Devolution Deal

From this starting point, all investment into the East Midlands is welcomed. The devolution deal for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire provides a guaranteed funding stream of £1.14bn, or £38m per year over the next three decades. There will also be an extra £16.8m for new homes on brownfield land.

It’s not just about the new money that will come into Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, but how it will be spent – and the potential to use it to leverage additional public and private sector investment – that means the new East Midlands County Combined Authority (EMCCA) has the potential to deliver significant positive economic benefits.

The devolution of powers from the centre to local means key decisions will be made by those who know their area best, led by the elected Mayor, Claire Ward, to have the strongest impact on the greatest number of people. This is a fantastic opportunity for communities and businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to attract much greater investment, both public and private, than they have been able to historically.

This is a unique deal, the first of its kind establishing a combined county authority, not to be confused with simply a combined authority that many may be familiar with, in city regions like Birmingham and Manchester.

The voice of business, and how it’s represented within this new political structure, is absolutely key. The Chamber’s role is to articulate the views of businesses in order to influence the creation of these thriving economic conditions, which will in turn stimulate investment that creates jobs at all levels.

The success of the role of elected mayor is pivotal to this, as the role facilitates conversations with those much higher up the tree in Westminster and Whitehall, and between other elected Mayors with contiguous geography, than Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have been able to do as a non-devolved area at county, city, borough or district level.

The Government’s £72m package for better train services in Manchester announced in May this year and a £60m investment into sport and culture in Birmingham to preserve the Commonwealth Games legacy are good examples of the influence of elected mayors.

We would certainly like to see the exploration of mass transit networks that facilitate mobility between urban and rural areas. One of the mayor’s powers is to produce an integrated transport plan that transcends local boundaries, so there is the potential to champion their own projects that could reopen obsolete train lines running across different regions.

While ultra-localism and the sense of place will always remain important, this will be a new era, led by the Mayor, that will deliver the macro-economic benefit we have seen happen elsewhere to finally level up our for the two cities and two counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I’m excited about what our region can now achieve, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish our former D2N2 LEP colleagues well in their new roles in the East Midlands Combined County Authority (EMCCA).”


Scott Knowles is Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and D2N2 LEP Board Member.

Scott began his career at North Derbyshire Chamber in 1999, providing advice and support to businesses in regard to preparing for the impending ‘millennium bug’ and supporting businesses to embrace emerging internet technologies of the time. Scott’s earlier career was in the information and communications technology sector.

As well as heading up the Chamber’s leadership team and representing the Chamber and its Members at senior level with stakeholders and partner organisations, Scott leads the delivery of the Chamber’s ambitious investment strategy and growth focused Business Plan.

Scott represents the Chamber, its members and the wider business community on a number of key stakeholder groups including:

  • The British Chambers of Commerce Board of Directors
  • East Midlands Business (EMB Group)
  • D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Destination Chesterfield
  • Visit Peak District & Derbyshire
  • Nottingham City Growth Board
  • Derby City Partnership
  • Business Peak District

Find out more about East Midlands Chamber

The D2N2 LEP team and functions have transitioned into the East Midlands Combined County Authority (EMCCA).

The D2N2 LEP Board will be in place until the end of this year.

For media enquiries, contact:

Nicola Swaney

Head of External Affairs

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