“ Abolish Devon district and borough councils to create super authority’ “

BUT, BUT, BUT – it’s already happening – EXCEPT we are keeping district councillors on the payroll!

Why does Owl say this?

Currently we have (at least) these new bureaucratic (and non-accountable) quangos in our area:

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Council
The “Greater Sourh West” group of LEPs
The “Joint Committee” of councils, NHS quangos and others in Devon and Somerset
“Greater Exeter”

and others working in the shadows.

In the middle of all this East Devon District Council is paying millions to build a new HQ and has not reduced its staff numbers throughout the period of austerity.

Questions … questions … but none of these groups are answerable to us and all choose how much (or more likely, how little) scrutiny they wish to have.

“The Government could deliver a £31 billion boost to the economy over five years by abolishing 201 district and borough councils in England and handing over their powers to county halls, a new report has said.

The report from think tank ResPublica calls for the abolition of the historic two-tier system of local government, which sees most rural areas of England covered by both a county council and a smaller district or borough authority with sometimes overlapping responsibilities.

ResPublica director Phillip Blond said the system is causing “needless confusion”, as businesses and developers find their plans frustrated by “parochial” decision-making on strategic issues.

Ditching the two-tier system and following the example of unitary councils adopted by most cities would help iron out wide variations in productivity which see workers in Cornwall take five days to produce the same value that can be delivered in three days in Surrey, he said.

With uncertain economic conditions after Brexit, the report said it was “vital” for counties to be prepared to weather the possible storm, particularly as those which voted most strongly to leave the EU are thought to be most vulnerable to any decline in trade resulting from it.

“The needless confusion that frustrates the ambitions of business and government alike in our county areas must end now,” Mr Blond said.

“With Brexit on the horizon and our city-regions already benefiting from devolution, we can’t afford the waste and complication that the current system creates.

“Single councils at the county scale are the future and we call on the Government to move rapidly to encourage them.”

Baroness Jane Scott, the leader of Wiltshire Council, said the move to a unitary authority in the county in 2009 had been a “great success” and warned that counties which fail to follow its lead face “the real risk of … being left behind”.

“Streamlining counties will contribute billions to the national economy and will be good for business,” said Lady Scott, the County Councils Network’s spokeswoman on reform.

“But the real winners are local residents who will benefit from improved public services, less bureaucracy, and access to more housing and facilities that meet local need and demand.”

The report will be launched at the County Council Network’s annual conference on November 20.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Moving to a single tier large unitary authority can often give residents a better deal for their local taxes, improved local services, less bureaucracy and stronger and more accountable local leadership.

“However, we are clear that any such move must be both locally led and have support from the community.”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/abolish-devon-district-borough-councils-790015

Our local LEPs: do they know something nobody else in western Europe knows?

The plan to double our regional economy in 18 years is indeed very ambitious.

Not a single OECD country out of 35 is predicted, by the OECD, to double its economy in 20 years, let alone 18 years, so Devon and Somerset will be doing remarkably well!

The UK is not predicted to double its economy in FORTY years, nor is the United States or the Eurozone.

The basis for Great South West predicting we will comfortably outperform the rest of the Western world appears to be the cleverness of the people at Great South West…

Weren’t they the ones who can’t even spell?

“Great South West” LEP for LEPs! The South-West Regional Development Agency rising from its ashes?

We’ve had the Heart of the South West LEP!
We’ve had the “Golden Triangle” LEP (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay)
We”ve even had the “Golden Quadrangle” LEP (Owl’s suggestion for adding in Cornwall or Dorset)

NOW we have the “Golden Pentangle” (adding in Cornwall AND Dorset)
yet ANOTHER unelected, unaccountable and non-transparent quango:

THE GREAT SOUTH WEST LEP!

first reported by Owl in August 2016 here:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/08/26/forget-heart-of-the-south-west-hello-great-south-west/

An update …

It seems plans are well-advanced for the “super” Local Enterprise Partnership of Local Enterprise Partnerships! They now even have a (very poor) website!

Those who remember life BEFORE our own LEP will recall that it was preceded by the much-derided South-West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) – so despised by the Tory/Lib Dem coalition that one of its first actions was to dispose of it and replace it with business-led, business-dominated, business-driven LEPs.

In our case it didn’t exactly work that way as OUR LEP (Heart of the South West – ie Devon and Somerset) decided to employ at a vast salary ex-SWRDA senior manager Chris Garcia – who is so beloved of our LEP that they raised his salary 26% last year!

However, he will perhaps be miffed that the job of CEO of the CEOs of all these LEPs has not gone to him but to Rozz Algar, a former Human Resources Manager:
http://herne.org.uk/pages/about-us/rozz-algar-cmgr-fcmi/101

Want to know what this “super” LEP is planning for us? Go to their NEW (riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes – OWL has spotted SIX spelling mistakes on its home page alone!) website at:

http://greatsouthwest.org.uk/

And hear LEP-speak like you’ve never heard it before! Including that old chestnut about how many hospitals it COULD (but won’t) build!

“AN INTRODUCTION TO GREAT SOUTH WEST?
[Yes there really IS a question mark at the end of that heading!!!]

The South West of England is a great place. It is poised for a step change in prospertiy and productivity. When the productivity in the South West of England matches that currently in the South East we will add over £18bn a year to the UK’s economy. That’s enough to build a new NHS hospital every week.

Our economy is already bigger than that of Manchester and more than two and a half times that of Birmingham – with the single largest infrastructure project in Europe already underway (generating billions of pounds of business opportunities) and the best natural capital in the country (attracting more visitors than anywhere else outside London).
[Just in case you don’t realise it, they are talking about Hinkley C nuclear power plant – that great white elephant in North Somerset]

The pubication of the SW Growth Charter in 2016 started our journey to promote our great region and we welcome the continuing support of stakeholders across the region to hlep in shaping our opportunities and building the momentum.

Our strategy for greater prosperity is to collaborate to promote

a self-sustaining and resillient South West ….
with innovation, enterprise and infrastructure ….
with productive people and rewarding careers …
utilising our natural and entreprenurial capital …
and sharing the benefits for all

We are focused towards having a clear and consistent strategy in time for the Autumn Statement.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN PRACTICE?

Great South West looks to build on existing good practice and collaborative working such as the science and innovation audit

By working together as a region will ensure that the South West has a strong voice to highlight investment opportunities to national and international private and public investors; as well as projecting a positive and progressive image for all

It will help to support the economic growth and prosperity of the whole region by linking up programmes and ensuring that the asks and priorities are consistent and reflect the strengths of the region

The Great Southwest does not intend to impede individuals or groups from their own initiatives or joining with others. We will not be a bureaucracy; but look to support and add value where it can.

It aims to support a flourishing private sector and a highly skilled population able to make the most of the great opportunities that the South West has to offer

Note: The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas.”

Yep, all on the back of Brexit!

Forget Heart of the South West, hello Great South West!

Not much in the way of money passing through their hands these days, thanks to former heavy reliance on government handouts and EU money.

Now, forget the “Heart of th South West” LEP and the “Golden Triangle” LEP and look forward to … well leave you to make up your own minds by letting them explain themselves.

But they soldier on, making more invisible clothes for the emperor, bigging up projects that are grinding on, avoiding talk of those that are stuck or being downgraded.

Here’s highlights from their August newsletter where we find an interesting new development.

First of all, the LEPs are all struggling to achieve anything so they are trying to find safety in numbers:

“This message and strong business interest have been taken forward into the Great South West brand. The work is at an early stage and is yet to involve more partners in the region; it is meant to be a flexible concept which partners can use on a project by project basis when it adds real value. Importantly, it aims to give us added weight with Government and other key stakeholders when we need to communicate across a larger geography. The concept has been progressed by the South West Leaders’ Forum and will continue to be developed through partnership and consultation with local authorities, MPs, business and the education sector.”

And so, our LEP will now aim to be part of a conglomerate called – wait for it

THE GREAT SOUTH WEST

to rival the (currently rather dead in the water) “Northern Powerhouse”.

Here’s how they explain it:

“In order to compete with other UK and international regions, ‘Great South West’ aims to bring together a wide range of stakeholders from across the whole of the South West including Local Authorities, LEPs, MPs, Business and Education. It’s being created as a vehicle to promote all that is great about the region and to act as a common banner to communicate a clear focus on the opportunities to deliver prosperity.

With over £100bn of business opportunities, the South West has much to contribute; a dynamic and progressive South West economy can generate the critical success factors needed for a successful national economy.

As a region, the South West is diverse with different priorities covering different geographies. By working together, we will develop strategies and actions to secure enhanced funding and investment creating a prosperous region for all of us.”

AND it even has a brand new web page!

http://greatsouthwest.org.uk/pages/contact-us/94

But don’t worry, the current and former members of our LEP are not neglecting their nuclear interests:

“In response to the Government’s commitment to work on an ‘early sector deal’ with the nuclear industry in the Industrial Strategy, NSW (made up of HotSW, West of England, Dorset and GFirst LEPs together with the private and academic/skills sectors) and its equivalent partners in the North West, have set out an approach to the Nuclear Industry Council to making the UK a global lead for the nuclear industry. …

The approach is an early stage and we will refine this through continued dialogue with Government on an effective nuclear sector deal. NSW believes it’s a major step forward and a testament to its integrity and profile that the North West consortium supported this joint approach.”

Lots and lots of scope for wasting more and more money there!

And last, but very much not least our LEP finally seems to realise that Brexit is upon us! And it has ANOTHER new sub-group:

The Brexit Resilience and Opportunities Group continues to draw together intelligence to understand the threats of Brexit in our area and maximise any opportunities.

Good information is crucial and the Group is still looking for more businesses to give their views on how their business will be affected by leaving the EU. The more people that respond, the better the results will be in building a meaningful response across all sectors.”

Summary: Heart of the South West LEP quietly morphing into …. drum roll… another iteration of the

South West Regional Development Agency

originally cut off in its bureaucratic prime by – the Conservative Government in 2012:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_development_agency

Newsletter:
http://mailchi.mp/heartofswlep/august-heart-of-the-south-west-lep-newsletter

And still as unaccountable and non-transparent as ever – just BIGGER!