Government Offices for the Regions to be Scrapped

July 23, 2010 9:51 AM

It seems that that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are ready to move quickly on their plans to strip away lumbering regional bureaucracies. So far we've seen the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Regional Strategies, funding for Regional Leaders’ Boards and the Government Office for London all abolished. Yesterday afternoon the rest of England's regional Government Offices were consigned to the scrapheap. More good news, then.

These offices served as little more than Whitehall outposts in the regions. The intention was that they would represent the regions in Whitehall, but as ever it has been very much the other way around. Councils should be encouraged to collaborate on projects and strategies too big for individual authorities, and shouldn't have to defer to these regional bodies which offer no more than government interference.

We'll hear the usual retorts: "We need these regional bodies to assure EU funding". But the further we get away from the EU imposed regional structures the better. Again local authorities could have a greater role here. A reliance on government money through the RDAs or EU funding through the regions - and overseen by the cumbersome Government Offices for the Regions - chokes off genuine private sector dynamism.

So all good news so far. But a word of caution - we've seen with RDAs that there is talk of back-pedalling or simply re-organising existing structures. This shouldn't happen. If they're not a good idea - which DCLG seem to think they're not - then they should scrap them outright.

It seems that that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are ready to move quickly on their plans to strip away lumbering regional bureaucracies. So far we've seen the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Regional Strategies, funding for Regional Leaders’ Boards and the Government Office for London all abolished. Yesterday afternoon the rest of England's regional Government Offices were consigned to the scrapheap. More good news, then.

These offices served as little more than Whitehall outposts in the regions. The intention was that they would represent the regions in Whitehall, but as ever it has been very much the other way around. Councils should be encouraged to collaborate on projects and strategies too big for individual authorities, and shouldn't have to defer to these regional bodies which offer no more than government interference.

We'll hear the usual retorts: "We need these regional bodies to assure EU funding". But the further we get away from the EU imposed regional structures the better. Again local authorities could have a greater role here. A reliance on government money through the RDAs or EU funding through the regions - and overseen by the cumbersome Government Offices for the Regions - chokes off genuine private sector dynamism.

So all good news so far. But a word of caution - we've seen with RDAs that there is talk of back-pedalling or simply re-organising existing structures. This shouldn't happen. If they're not a good idea - which DCLG seem to think they're not - then they should scrap them outright.

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