On Wednesday 5 February EDDC is going to hold a masterclass on Jointery (noun – the art of weaving liaison/co-ordination/steering committees/groups into such a complex web no-one knows who’s really in charge and no-one has time to do anything anyway).
Buried deep – see agenda Item 20, page 114 of the Cabinet Papers, subject: Heart of the South West Joint Committee Governance Arrangements.
Step back with Owl to 2014 when the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), covering Devon and Cornwall was first formed. The government’s idea was that this should be business chaired and business led. Consequently, of the 20 board members only six were elected representatives of the 19 local/unitary authorities covered.
In 2017 Mary Ney published a critical review of the unacceptably poor governance arrangements in most LEPs. Following this the Joint Committee referred to in the EDDC cabinet paper was set up in March 2018. A single representative from each local authority formed the membership plus co-opted members from HotSW, transport and health bodies. One might have thought that this was to provide some sort of accountable oversight of the LEP. But the EDDC cabinet papers say that the Joint Committee acts as a single voice to Government on socio-economic and environmental issues and makes the case for additional powers and funding to be transferred to its individual members for the benefit of the people of Devon and Somerset. Accountability seems to have been relgated to the Joint Scrutiny Committee which can barely scrape a quorum together.
Where does this leave HotSW, until now our formal devolution link with government?
Perhaps some clues can be found in para 4 of the cabinet paper which explains why a review (and more funding in cash and officer effort) is needed.
Changes in Government policy away from large devolution ‘deals’ to a more targeted dialogue on key themes of relevance to the local authorities and partners, e.g housing. The Joint Committee’s influencing role has become increasingly important as recognised by Ministers, local MPs and Government officials. The ambition remains to draw down additional functions, powers and funding from Government.
The evolution of the Joint Committee’s role from agreeing policy (the HotSW Productivity Strategy) to overseeing delivery of the Strategy alongside the LEP.
The developing relationships with other key local partnerships to ensure that there are appropriate reporting lines, ie, HotSW LEP Joint Scrutiny Committee, Peninsula Transport Board, HotSW Local Transport Board, and Great South West.
No! Great South West is not another rail franchise as the name suggests, it is, in fact, another example of Jointery which has crept out of the woodwork.
Steve Hindley, Chairman of Midas Group, stepped down as Chair of HotSW in 2019 and has now popped up in 2020 as Chair of this Great South West (GSW).
The Great South West prospectus sets out how the area spanning Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the Heart of the South West (Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay) and Dorset aims to become the latest growth alliance to rebalance the UK economy, alongside the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse.
On Wednesday, January 22, a delegation comprising business leaders, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), MPs and local authorities (Including DCC Leader John Hart) presented Minister for Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, with the GSW growth prospectus and briefed him on ambitions to deliver £45 billion of economic benefit and 190,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.
It seeks support for an enhanced export and investment hub; recognition of a Great South West Tourism Zone and an agreement to create a rural productivity deal.
At HotSW, Hindley oversaw an unrealistic and undeliverable strategy for regional growth aimed at doubling the local economy in 20 years, way ahead of any national performance forecasts, with no clear strategy or feedback mechanism to measure success.
The GSW proposal is more modest. It considers three scenarios: continue growth at 2017 levels; increase to 90% of UK average; matching UK average — nothing about doubling the economy in 20 years. Owl wonders if everyone is singing from the same Hymn sheet.
Owl also wonders why Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset couldn’t have agreed on forming a single LEP based on the GSW area in the first place, a much more logical arrangement to make the case for infrastructure investment on transport etc .
GSW Prospectus here: