The world of quangos' is one ripe for ridicule. Unfortunately, the jokes are often expensive ones. Much has already been written on the excesses of some quangos, the massive public expenditure that supports them (nearly £120 billion) and the bizarreness of some of their remits. What is not always considered is the considerable amount of overlap and replication that exists between quangos housed in different departments.
A case in point is the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC). West Northamptonshire of course deserves funds for regeneration as much as any other worthy region, but does it really deserve its own dedicated quango, funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government to the tune of £15 million?
Taken alone, the WNDC may seem reasonable. But consider that the region already receives considerable financial attention from the regeneration orientated English Partnership Quango (also part of the Dept. of Communities and Local Government), the East Midlands Development Agency (a quango under the Dept. of Trade and Industry) and Culture East Midlands (a quango located in the Dept. of Culture,
Media and Sport), not to mention through the development programmes of local authorities, and the case for a dedicated WNDC seems slim.
That case goes from slim to ridiculous when it emerges that Micheal Hayes, the WNDC's cheif executive, enjoys a salary of £115,000, and two other directors take salaries in excess of £70,000. Quango websites are always a good gauge for whether the quango has a real substantive raison d'etre:
'WNDC is developing a framework that will set out how the regeneration of West Northamptonshire will be achieved. In an era of profound and lasting change, West Northamptonshire will only prosper if it embraces its position within the global economy...'
The WNDC apparently exists to identify 'the drivers of change that provide the context for action' and to 'locate the priorities for action... to ensure West Northamptonshire makes the most of the opportunities and challenges arising from change'.
In amongst such management-speak there is a link to the WNDC's 'Task'. Revealingly, it leads to page with nothing on it but the words 'coming soon'.