Futures Forum: Devolution deals 'mixed and inconclusive'
A piece from East Devon Watch today gives an excellent overview of where we might possibly be and where we might possibly be going:
FORGET HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST, HELLO GREAT SOUTH WEST!
26 AUG 2017
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!
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:
And still as unaccountable and non-transparent as ever – just BIGGER!
Forget Heart of the South West, hello Great South West! | East Devon Watch
And here is the home page of the new 'Great South West' project - together with the disclaimer right at the bottom:
WHAT IS GREAT SOUTH WEST?
A wide range of leaders from organisations across the South West of England (including from the public, business and education sectors) have been discussing how they can work together under a common banner to enable a common strategy for increased productivity and prosperity for all. Great South West is the working title for this.
With over £100bn of business opportunities, the South West has much to contribute to UK plc; a dynamic and progressive South West economy can generate the critical success factors needed for a successful national economy.
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