QUARTERLY                               MAGAZINE OF THETHE VOICE OF THE MEMBERSHIPNO. 281, SPRING 2011                    ...
In Depth, pp. 6-9                                                                                 Regions No 281 Spring 20...
In Depthand academics can draw on these insights       for Communities and Local Government.         ‘a wide range of idea...
In Depth                                                                                                                  ...
In Depthcontinue to grow louder. The former is         strategic projects (unworkable at lower       priorities or, worse ...
Xyxyyxyx Yxyyxyyyx                                                                       Regions No 281 Spring 2011       ...
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2011 The regional lacuna: a preliminary map of the transition from Regional Development Agencies to Local Economic Partnerships - Pugalis


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Sub-national development in England is once again at a decisive crossroads in its persistent journey of state-led restructuring. Whereas the territories of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland achieved significant devolutionary packages under the UK’s Labour Government (1997-2010), decentralisation in England was rather more constrained and could be more aptly described as a regionalisation of central government functions. Since the election of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat (Con-Lib) UK Government in May, 2010, the demise of England’s regional framework has featured prominently in political discourse. It is a case of ‘out with the old’, including Regional Development Agencies, Government Offices for the Regions and Regional Leaders’ Boards, and ‘in with the new’, such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, as the Coalition Government embark on their quest of economic rebalancing and recovery at the same time as state spending retrenches. The transition is all the more intriguing from a European vantage, considering that regions are the bedrock of the EU’s territorial cohesion policy; performing a key role in the administration of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Contemplating how this transition may play out, I sketch a preliminary map of the road from Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

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2011 The regional lacuna: a preliminary map of the transition from Regional Development Agencies to Local Economic Partnerships - Pugalis

  2. 2. In Depth, pp. 6-9 Regions No 281 Spring 2011 THE REGIONAL LACUNA: A PRELIMINARY MAP OF THE TRANSITION FROM REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES TO LOCAL ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIPS Lee Pugalis, Newcastle University and County Durham Economic Partnership, UK Setting the Democrat (Con-Lib) UK Government have stimulated a resurgence of interest scene in May 2010, the demise of England’s in the future of sub-national development Sub-national regional framework has featured promi- policy, including the ‘politics of scale’, une- development in nently in political discourse. It is a case ven development and spatial inequalities, England is once of ‘out with the old’, including Regional as observed by the editors of this magazine again at a deci- Development Agencies (RDAs), in issue 279. The transition is all the more sive crossroads Government Offices for the Regions intriguing from a European vantage, con- in its persistent and Regional Leaders’ Boards, and ‘in sidering that regions are the bedrock of the journey of state- with the new’ such as Local Enterprise EU’s territorial cohesion policy, perform- led restructuring. Partnerships (LEPs), as the Coalition ing a key role in the administration of the Whereas the territories of Scotland, Government embark on their quest of European Regional Development Fund Wales and Northern Ireland achieved economic rebalancing and recovery at the (ERDF). Contemplating how this transi- significant devolutionary packages under same time as state spending retrenches. tion may play out, I sketch a preliminary map the UK’s Labour Government (1997- An ‘orderly’ transitional period is of the road from RDAs to LEPs. Whilst 2010), decentralisation in England was programmed to be largely completed by the analytical focus is spatially specific to rather more constrained and could be March 2012, the outcome being a radical England, the policy journey of economic more aptly described as a regionalisation transformation of the geography of sub- space in transition is of wider appeal. of central government functions. Since national development policy, governance Hopefully the international community the election of a Conservative-Liberal and delivery. Consequently, these shifts of researchers, practitioners, policy-makers Figure 1: Map of English regions indicating RDA spend and impacts6
  3. 3. In Depthand academics can draw on these insights for Communities and Local Government. ‘a wide range of ideas’ underpinned byto help inform the scale, scope and pace The letter is an example of the Coalition’s little more than a few paragraphs of looseof policy transitions in other time-space so-called permissive policy approach guidance, stakeholders were tasked withtrajectories. (i.e. unautocratic), which is claimed to quickly negotiating territorial alliances reflect localist ideals (or a ‘Big Society’) against the background of local politics,From RDAs to LEPs whereby the delivery of services and histories of cross-boundary and multi-Conceived under a Labour Government, other responsibilities are passed-down sector collaboration, business views andRDAs are non-departmental public bod- to local communities and volunteers. the logic(s) of functional economic geog-ies, or quangos, set up under the Regional Yet, the letter states that Government raphies. An additional layer of complexityDevelopment Agencies Act 1998 to be is “reviewing all the functions of the was the fact that the Government’s Whitestrategic drivers of regional development. RDAs”, surmising that ‘some of these Paper on Local growth (HM Government,Responsible to Whitehall and governed are best led nationally, such as inward 2010) was not published until 28 Octoberby state appointed private sector led investment, sector leadership, responsi- 2010 – at which point the deadline for LEPboards, the nine RDAs were arguably bility for business support, innovation, submissions had passed. Consequently, pro-the chief institutional configuration and access to finance.” Arguably, the posals – of variable quality, ambition andunder Labour for promoting enterprise centralisation of these RDA responsibili- stakeholder buy-in – were quickly workedand innovation within the regions (see ties would significantly undermine the up on the basis of limited national criteriaFigure 1). Until the Coalition signalled Coalition’s localism agenda together with and the absence of even a partial road maptheir abolition (subject to legislation), the ability of LEPs to play a significant of the Con-Libs’ economic transition plan.RDAs performed at a key nexus of role in developing their local economies. The result was the submission of over 60power between localities and Whitehall, Therefore, the purported transition from bids, of which many were clearly ‘rival’and were collectively responsible for a regionalist framework (synonymous and/or geographically overlapping.the annual administration of billions of with the previous Labour Government)pounds of central government Single to a localism approach (championed by The transition periodProgramme resources and ERDF.1 the Con-Libs), may not be as clear-cut Contending that the transition period is Guided by the objective ‘to help as some would have us believe. Indeed, likely to be anything but orderly, whatstrengthen local economies’, LEPs there is a suspicion that the rhetoric of follows in the remainder of this articlewere put forward by the Coalition decentralisation may be thinly disguising is a preliminary map as I navigate the roadGovernment as the only key apparatus centralist tendencies (Pugalis, 2010). from RDAs to LEPs. Firstly, I considerby which to reform sub-national devel- timing to be paramount. With mostopment. Circumventing the customary LEPs: Guiding (state-set) RDAs set to stay operational (to lesserconsultation procedures and discarding parameters or greater degrees) until March 2012, it isother options, such as reviewing RDAs, By way of the Cable-Pickles letter, the crucial that LEPs hit the ground runningthe Con-Libs invited “councils and busi- Coalition Government set an extremely and maintain momentum. Coordinatingness leaders to come together to consider ambitious deadline of 6 September 2010 the rollout of one sub-national economichow [they] wish to form [LEPs] ... ena- for joint public-private LEP propositions. entity with the rollback of another wouldbling councils and business to replace the Government provided stakeholders with aid the transfer of key skills, knowledgeexisting [RDAs].”2 This open invitation less than 70 days to develop proposals, and assets. If the Con-Libs decide to cashwas by way of a letter, dated 29 June, guided by their embryonic ideas for LEPs in on RDA assets, as a short-term strat-2010, penned by Vince Cable, Secretary and some broad parameters covering role, egy to ease the budget deficit by way of aof State for Business, Innovation and governance and geography (see Figure ‘fire sale’, it may well result in significantSkills, and Eric Pickles, Secretary of State 2). Indeed, with Ministers encouraging delays to long-term regeneration schemes Figure 2: Government parameters Role Governance Geography - Provide strategic leadership; setting - Collaboration between business and - Better reflect the ‘natural’ economic out local economic priorities civic leaders, normally including geography; covering the ‘real’ - Help rebalance the economy towards equal representation on the boards of functional economic and travel to the private sector; creating the right these partnerships work areas environment for business - Work closely with universities and - Expect partnerships would include - Tackle issues such as planning further education colleges groups of upper tier local authori- and housing, local transport and - A prominent business leader should ties, which would not preclude that infrastructure priorities, employment chair the board which matches existing regional and enterprise, the transition to the boundaries - Sufficiently robust governance low carbon economy and in some structures areas tourism - Proper accountability for delivery by partnerships 7
  4. 4. In Depth Regions No 281 Spring 2011 underpinning the revival of depressed operational costs will be incidental if the over the previous decade up until the local economies. With a dearth of inves- finance (including lending powers) is not credit crunch will rapidly recoil. Slavishly tors, and development financing almost in place to deliver. Lib-Con rhetoric that reducing regeneration resources for those impossible to obtain without pre-lets, the public sector needs to retract from places most in need, and in turn where the stalling and ‘mothballing’ of complex an interventionist role in order to release the private sector refuses to invest, is akin urban regeneration projects would strug- the business community to lead an eco- to robbing Peter to pay Paul: savings gle to regain development momentum. nomic recovery may have some merit in made through regeneration funding cuts Secondly, the positive role and ambi- those places underpinned by a relatively are likely to be soaked up by increased tions of LEPs must be supported with a buoyant private sector. However, such an demand for health and welfare support, reasonable level of resources. With the approach is likely to perpetuate uneven for example. Coalition reluctant to support the single patterns of spatial development and Thirdly, a cavernous policy vacuum running costs associated with operat- exacerbate socio-economic disparities is expanding between localities and the ing a cross-boundary economic agency, (Peck, 2010). For the rest of the coun- national level. Whilst the letter was co- although there are signs of a change try, the areas of need and public sector signed by Cable and Pickles, providing in stance, 3 the goodwill and financial dependency, lying beyond the places of the impression of a united front, noises backing of local partners will only go so (investment) choice and opportunity, of a ‘turf war’ between the two figure- far. Regardless, the issue of day-to-day there is a danger that the progress made heads and their respective departments Figure 3: The geography of LEPs Local Enterprise Partnerships List of local enterprise partnerships 1 Birmingham and Solihull with East Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth 2 Cheshire and Warrington 3 Coast to Capital ± Local Authority Districts in 4 Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly overlapping local enterprise 5 Coventry and Warwickshire partnerships 6 Cumbria 7 Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough 8 Greater Manchester 16 9 Hertfordshire 10 Kent, Greater Essex and East Sussex 11 Leeds City Region 6 23 12 Leicester and Leicestershire 13 Lincolnshire 14 Liverpool City Region 15 New Anglia 16 Northern Eastern Partnership 17 Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Derbyshire 11 18 Oxfordshire City Region 19 Sheffield City Region 8 20 Solent 14 19 21 South East Midlands 22 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire 2 13 23 Tees Valley 17 24 Thames Valley and Berkshire 25 The Black Country 22 1 26 The Marches Enterprise Partnership 27 West of England 25 12 15 28 Worcestershire 26 7 5 28 21 9 18 27 24 10 3 20 4 Isles of Scilly Inset 4 Produced by the Geographic Analysis Team, ASD Kilometres Data Sources: © Crown Copyright and database right 2010. All rights reserved. 0 15 30 60 90 OS Boundary Line Ordnance Survey Licence number 100018986 2011 01 038
  5. 5. In Depthcontinue to grow louder. The former is strategic projects (unworkable at lower priorities or, worse still, for any whiteconsidered to see the benefits of retain- or higher spatial scales), such as some space on the map left out of the LEPing a regional economic presence in transport schemes. It appears to me that equation. Let us hope that the Lib-Conssome parts of the country such as the the Coalition have become ideologically stay true to their localism philosophy,North and Midlands, whereas the latter blinded to the reality that the English which would put the onus on localitiesis antipathetic to anything ‘regional’ or regions, or at least some of the regions, to devise unique policy solutions, sup-indeed ‘strategic’ as many planners and provide a pragmatic spatial scale for ported by financial freedoms, flexibilitiesdevelopers would attest in response to bridging the national-local divide. and powers. Maybe those plying theirthe hasty revocation of Regional Spatial trade outside of England can ref lectStrategies, (Pugalis and Townsend, Concluding remarks on a on this form and manner of state-led2010). In policy and practice terms, the shifting agenda restructuring and act accordingly theCoalition’s intentions and policy shifts Interest in LEPs has been enormous, next time a new (and presumably better)thus far reveal an outright abandonment with 62 propositions submitted to policy innovation is proposed.of regional policy-architecture, which Government ahead of the September For a more extensive examination ofhas created a regional lacuna. 2010 deadline. This is perhaps hardly the issues addressed in this article consult: A map of the ‘first wave’ of 24 LEPs surprising considering that LEPs have “Sub-national economic development:approved by Government shows the been conceived as a direct replacement for where do we go from here?”, Journal ofcomplexity of the geography of emerg- RDAs, notwithstanding the recentralisa- Urban Regeneration and Renewal.ing economic governance. Incidentally, tion of some notable responsibilities tofrom the announcement of the first wave the state. Whilst the White Paper (HM Endnotesof LEPs in October 2010 up to the date Government, 2010) is now in circulation, 1 The RDAs’ combined budget wasof writing in January 2011, four further £2.3 billion in 2007-08 and remains at countless questions remain in respect of just over £1.4 billion in 2010/11.LEPs – Norfolk & Suffolk, the Black the transitional process and the role(s) of 2 The letter is available at:Country and Worcestershire – were LEPs. How long will it take to establish http://www.parliament.uk/deposits/approved between December 2010 and LEPs as effective economic leadership depositedpapers/2010/DEP2010-1363.pdfJanuary 2011, with others set to follow vehicles? When established, will the [accessed 2 July 2010](see Figure 3). Hence, whilst it is reason- 3 In January 2010, the Coalition announced boards of LEPs be composed of the usualable to surmise that the white areas on the that it is to launch a £4 million fund aimed suspects? Alternatively, are democratic at boosting the analytical capacity of LEPs.map will continue to reduce, the geogra- accountability and business leadershipphy of sub-national development policy, a recipe for disaster? Might governancegovernance and delivery is at the cusp of issues and institutional reconfigurations Referencesradical transformation. Estimating that distract attention from delivering positive Herrschel, T. (2010), “Regionalisation,circa 35 LEPs could eventually replace change? How will succession planning marginalisation and the role of govern-the eight RDAs outside of London, a key be carried forward and in what ways ance in Europe and North Americaquestion is how London-based ministerial may noteworthy RDA successes provide (Part 2),” Regions 280(Winter), p.28.departments could feasibly engage with HM Government (2010), Local growth: a positive legacy for LEPs? How will realising every place’s potential,each LEP on an individual basis? Indeed, ERDF be managed and by whom? In London: The Stationery Office.will Whitehall mandarins appreciate terms of multi-level governance and Larkin, K. (2010), “Regions after RDAs,”the spatial particularities of these new coordination across multiple spatial Public Finance Blog, 1 July.geographies of economic governance? scales, how will nationally ‘led’ eco- Peck, F. (2010), “Post Election policyMore so, what prospects for non-LEP debate in the UK: Whither the regional nomic programmes interact with LEPs? agenda?,” Regions 279, pp.4-5.geographies of England? Indeed, does such an approach run the Pugalis, L. (2010), “Looking Back in Without some form of strategic eco- risk of contradicting the localism agenda? Order to Move Forward: The Politicsnomic body to negotiate the policy space Only time will tell. It will be interesting of Evolving Sub-National Economicin between sub-regional groupings of to take stock of the transition and how Policy Architecture,” Local Economy,localities and the national level, I would LEPs are bedding down in a year’s time. 25(5-6), pp.397-405. Pugalis, L. and Townsend, A. (2010), “Cancaution that the spatial particularities of However, at this juncture I am sceptical LEPs fill the strategic void?,” Town &LEPs, outside the ‘big hitters’ organised that the Coalition Government posses Country Planning, 79(9), pp.382-87.around a core city such as Birmingham the majority of the answers.or Manchester, may struggle to make Critics suggest that this slight reshuf-their voices heard in Whitehall policy fle of the same pack of cards is merely Dr Lee Pugalis is a Visiting Fellowcircles. Notwithstanding the limitations “economic development on the cheap ... at the Global Urban Research Unit,of regional administrative areas in pro- a no-frills version of the economic pol- Newcastle University, and man-viding the ideal spatial fix for the delivery icy of the past decade” (Larkin, 2010), ages the County Durham Economicof all sub-national policy, strategically- that may marginalise or overshadow Partnership. Prior to his existing role,focused regional bodies would help the interests of some places and groups Lee was the Regeneration Specialistin coordinating the activity of LEPs, (Herrschel, 2010). If this is so, then Advisor to One North East Regionalfacilitating cross-boundary cooperation, improvements remain ambiguous, but Development Agency and has alsothe management of some programmes the potential to lose out is significant. worked for central and regional gov-(including ERDF) and could even Not least for any place on the periph- ernment in policy-making roles.assume responsibility for signif icant ery of a LEP board’s spatio-economic lee.pugalis@ncl.ac.uk 9
  6. 6. Xyxyyxyx Yxyyxyyyx Regions No 281 Spring 2011 Regions THE VOICE OF THE MEMBERSHIP The Regional Survey in this issue focuses on regional integration in Latin America. Our contributors explore the difficulties that these countries have traditionally faced in integrating interventions to develop their peripheral regions as well as the potential for growth that coordinated interventions might generate in the continent. Despite the widely held belief that the lack of linguistic and religious barriers would simplify integration efforts between these countries; the lack of both political and economic coordination, the large size of the areas, regional disparities both between them as well as within them, and poor infrastructure have always worked against integration efforts in the region. This series of articles edited by Carola Ramon-Berjano provides expert views on three different integration initiatives in Latin America; namely MERCOSUR (the area between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), UNASUR (a more ambitious project involving 12 Latin American countries) and ZICOSUR (an economic zone comprising neighbouring and peripheral areas of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Bolivia). These articles approach the issue of larger versus smaller integration schemes as well as differences and similarities between countries and regions. These schemes are viewed at different scales from the wider Latin American perspective, to the national and regional levels to illustrate how the potential gains as well as problems vary between countries and regions. This issue also contains insights into the changing landscape of regional and local development in the UK and in France. John Diamond discusses the new Coalition Government’s concept of the “Big Society” and renewed interest in ‘localism’ in the UK. He argues that these concepts may have little to do with democratisation of local decision-making but more to do with a decline in the role of the state at all levels, including the demise of the Regional Development Agencies that were set up under the previous Labour Administration. This theme is picked up by Lee Pugalis in the In Depth article on the changing institutional structures surrounding sub-national development in the UK. It is noted that these changes are particularly intriguing from the perspective of European Cohesion Policy which remains firmly based on ‘regions’ as the basic spatial unit for territorial development. In contrast, Anna Geppert provides a research note on the French Government’s plans to strengthen the City-Region scale of development through the promotion of collaborative networks. Regional Studies Association, PO Box 2058, Seaford, East Sussex BN25 4QU, UK Tel: 00 44 (0)1323 899 698, Fax: 00 44 (0)1323 899 798 info@rsa-ls.ac.uk, www.regional-studies-assoc.ac.uk Registered Charity No: 1084165 Registered Company, Limited By Guarantee In England No: 4116288 Typesetting and Printing by Roger Booth (Studio) Ltd32 48 Keymer Road, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 8AR. Tel: 01273 846834 Email: studio@rogerbooth.com