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23.04.07
Peninsula Enterprise selected as Business Link provider

Peninsula Enterprise has been selected to deliver the Business Link service in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

The announcement follows a decision at a board meeting of the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA).

Business Link provides advice and information for new small and medium-sized businesses across the country. Responsibility for the region's service passed to the South West RDA in April 2005 as part of the Government's drive to streamline business support, reducing duplication of services and thus ensuring more money is spent directly on customers.

Peninsula Enterprise will be a new operation within Serco Regional Services, who submitted the bid with Business Link Somerset. It is likely the Peninsula Enterprise head office will be based in Exeter with local offices in Truro, Plymouth and Taunton. Serco already operates the highly successful www.businesslink.gov website and the Business Link service for London.

The other shortlisted bid was invited from Business Link Devon and Cornwall. Stephen Peacock, Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the RDA, said: "Since taking on the responsibility for the Business Links we have focused on making a high quality service even better as the main gateway for business support.

"This was an extremely tough decision to make as both bids were very strong. However, having made the decision, we can now move forward and make the most of this opportunity to provide an improved service to businesses in the region."

The new contract will come into effect in December this year. Until then the Business Link service will continue to be provided by the existing organisations Business Link Devon and Cornwall and Business Link Somerset.

The RDA will be meeting shortly with both existing operators to give feedback on the tender outcome and to agree the handling of the transition, including their plans for managing the impact upon staff.

The decision to go out to tender follows the failure of the current operators to agree a merger as originally proposed. Business Link operators in the north and east of the region have pressed ahead with an alliance as planned.

For further information contact Pip Hatt, South West RDA press office, on 01392 229567.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Business Link through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

The South West of England Regional Development Agency was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encouraging enterprise, improving infrastructure, helping communities with regeneration and promoting the strengths of the region.

This tender is part of the South West's response to the government's Business Support Simplification Programme. The aim of the simplification programme is to increase the ease of use, effectiveness and efficiency of government support to business. A partnership of central and local government, the Regional Development Agencies and Business will create better services for business, making a real difference to communities and benefiting the economy as a whole. This will involve, for example, reducing the number of business support products from 3,000 to less than 100.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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