Below is a comment on an earlier post:
reprinted here as it raises some interesting questions, raised by David Daniel, who so eloquently spoke about the unrealistic expectations of our LEPs growth strategy to a largely uninformed and disinterested majority of Conservative councillors at DCC recently:
This now seems to be the THIRD such trial marriage of various south-west LEPs. None of them seem to be made in heaven ……….
“WESSEX here we come!
English devolution is a mess, whether it will evolve into anything sensible is uncertain.
A third of people living in England outside London live in one of England’s nine combined authorities, six being cities with directly elected mayors. These are corporate bodies formed of two or more local government areas to enable decision-making across boundaries on issues that extend beyond the interests of any one individual local authority, like strategic transport planning.
Our nearest is the West of England Combined Authority of: Bristol; North Somerset; Bath and North East Somerset; and South Gloucester. The Government has encouraged the creation of these structures in order to provide the economic scale needed for devolution. These are on the fast track.
County identities are medieval in origin but they continue to lurk in our consciences. We identify with them democratically and historically. The focus of the Coalition 2010 white paper that set devolution in progress was to create administrations based on economic functional areas rather than regions. This has set in train a conflict between perceived economic necessity and community identity and democracy. A few Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) followed county boundaries eg Cornwall and Scilly, and Dorset, but most did not. Some even overlapped.
Following on from the combined authorities, which are all centred on what one might describe as metropolitan areas, we are beginning to see the creation of new concepts by the combination of LEPs into “power” groupings such as the Council of the North, Midlands Engine, Oxbridge Corridor etc.
We now have the Great South West Partnership of: Heart of the South West (HotSW), Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, and Dorset LEPs. Or do we? The reason I add a question mark is because not very long ago (April to be exact) we had the Great South West Partnership comprising FOUR LEPs, including Swindon and Wiltshire “working together” to agree the next steps in implementing the recommendations of a report on Productivity. We were also told that GFirst (Gloucester) and West of England (Bristol) LEPs were also taking an active interest.
In his first interview on Somerset Live the new HotSW Chief Executive, David Ralph said “We’ve set a really big ambition about doubling the size of the economy in this area over the next 30 years.”
Previously the target had been to double the economy in 20 years. When I asked for clarification I was told it was a mis-speak, not a change of policy to something slightly more realistic.
So who knows where we are going?”