In our first two months in government we have demonstrated our commitment to localism, decentralisation and rolling back regional government in England. We have announced the abolition of Regional Development Agencies, abolished the Regional Strategies, ended funding for the Regional Leaders’ Boards (the successors to the Regional Assemblies) and are closing the Government Office for London.
CLG published its Structural Reform Plan today, picked out the two headline dates regarding the regional tier. The document replace “the old, top-down systems of targetsand central micromanagement”. Central government will only retain oversight over local authorities in “exceptional areas”.
Fieldwork is up and running on the project now so I don’t have as much time as I would like to analyse the new stuff coming out of Whitehall at the moment. The document is quite short; comments welcome on the mentions given to energy efficiency and sustainable development, or anything else that takes your fancy. All help gratefully appreciated
The Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles): “Today I am making the first step to deliver our commitment in the coalition agreement to “rapidly abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils”, by revoking Regional Strategies.
Regional Strategies added unnecessary bureaucracy to the planning system. They were a failure. They were expensive and time-consuming. They alienated people, pitting them against development instead of encouraging people to build in their local area.
The revocation of Regional Strategies will make local spatial plans, drawn up in conformity with national policy, the basis for local planning decisions. The new planning system will be clear, efficient and will put greater power in the hands of local people, rather than regional bodies. Continue reading
Today's Budget has the news, RDAs will be abolished through the Public Bodies Bill with a White Paper 'setting out proposals' later in the summer (section 1.89). These proposals look to be based around how local authorities want arrangements to look for regional development. There is an early (unenthusiastic) reaction from the leader of Nottingham City Council here.No analysis here as yet, other than to note that if the RDAs do disappear then it leaves only the Government Offices and Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships organised regionally.
Prior to next week’s Emergency Budget, Chief Secretary Danny Alexander has just made a special announcement on cuts made to spending agreed since the beginning of the year. Amongst the high-profile programmes, loans and capital projects being axed are the Local Authority Leaders’ Boards.Although not its only raison d’etre, the Boards’ disappearance isn’t particularly surprising following the abolition of Regional Strategies, which they were to collaborate on with Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). Although its early days in the Cameron Government, it’s clear that regional tier organisations are being swept away pretty rapidly. leaving questions on the fate of RDAs and the Government Office network. The Conservatives have spoken approvingly of local authority collaboration in the past, but this announcement signals a further step towards the dismantling of the regions which have formed the? framework for collaboration under Labour.
Put simply, authorities can collaborate in whatever way they wish…but must find the funds themselves.
The most immediate impact of the new government on sub-national climate policy is via changes at CLG rather than in climate change policy itself. Abolition of Regional Strategies appears to represent a big change in approach from Labour’s development of regional policy as a kind of meso-level to link the local and national.There are implications for the making and implementation of policy and for organisations within the region; East Midlands Councils are the most immediately affected, winding down their strategy function possibly as soon as the end of June.?
Both the coalition parties have shown antipathy towards regional government so the dismantling of one of its key functions is perhaps unsurprising, particularly within the context of the cuts required in the next Spending Review. However, the Strategies’ abolition is noticeable for its speed, and raises interesting questions of how climate policy will proceed.
An updated list of the local area agreements for the East Midlands