Wednesday, 16 March 2016

"LEP devolution ‘deals’ around the country have been rushed through at such a speed that at the moment there is confusion and even contradicting messages even amongst LEP Board Members."

The East Devon Watch blog has been regularly publishing pieces on the devolution project and what it means for Devon:
Futures Forum: Devolution, LEPs and second thoughts >>> "We can’t recommend getting on a bus when we don’t know what the fare is and we don’t know where it’s going."

Here is the previous government's pronouncement on the need for LEPs:

Our economy is currently too dependent on a narrow range of industry sectors. We need an economy driven by private sector growth, with business opportunities evenly balanced across the country and between industries. We also need to reduce burdens for businesses, particularly in terms of lower tax levels, planning and other administrative burdens.

2010 to 2015 government policy: Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and enterprise zones - GOV.UK

However, the EDA has continued to raise questions over the past fortnight:

Is this 'privatisation by stealth'?
Devolution: privatisation of public services by stealth from 2010 | East Devon Watch

Why has there been so little transparency?
More transparency and public consultation required of LEPs | East Devon Watch
Devolution & LEP's Articles & Resources | Southdevonwatch.org.uk

How does the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee see things?
Parliamentary Committee Report on Devolution So Far: | East Devon Watch

'Is the government’s oversight of LEPs likely to deliver value for money?'
National Audit Office consultation: Local Enterprise Partnerships accountability and value for money | East Devon Watch

To what extent have 'LEP devolution deals around the country have been rushed through at such a speed that at the moment there is confusion and even contradicting messages even amongst LEP Board Members?'
Well, Owl, I have been concerned for sometime, which is why I’ve spent so much time over the last few weeks mole-ing around, including a trip around HotSW website. 
They have kept proper minutes up until recently and they do have sub-committees and groups which are all listed. Many of these actually lead off site; for example, the Penninsular Rail Task Force, the Growth Hub etc where they, in effect, are a ‘partner’. 
The extent to which HotSW are actually calling the shots on anything is most unclear at the moment. What I’ve been doing is keeping an eye on their internal committees and tracking the topics and subjects raised. 
One thing which is manifestly clear though, is that LEP ‘deals’ around the country have been rushed through at such a speed that at the moment there is confusion and even contradicting messages even amongst LEP Board Members.
So, I carry on digging and watching…

Keep up your good work, Robbie B (South Devon Watch – aka vichara0 on WordPress)

£12 billion to Local Enterprise Partnerships | East Devon Watch

How far has the power between the centre and the localities really been rebalanced?

Somehow they confused all this devolution stuff with local democracy. They assumed that, as our locally elected democratic representatives, they’d have some say sometime about the structure and operation of these new institutions. 

So what has been happening? First, let’s dispense with the ludicrous ‘revolution’ hype, as surely would Osborne himself, had the easy rhyme not proved irresistible.

Anything remotely approaching a revolution would necessarily include a substantial plank of fiscal devolution, would be underpinned by a subsidiarity presumption in favour of devolving functions unless there were compelling reasons not to, and would contain some formula for lastingly rebalancing the relationship between central and local government.

This policy does none of these. So forget revolution; it’s debateable – the Greater Manchester deals apart, and taking account of its covert motives – whether it clears the ‘genuinely radical’ bar.

Osborne’s devolution is a party politically in
spired, top-down, Treasury-driven, ministerially managed, lightweight personal ego trip that by the day looks as much concerned with surreptitiously reorganising and unitarising sub-central government as with strengthening and empowering it.

None of which means that what’s on offer isn’t hugely more promising than anything contemplated by previous governments, or that local government shouldn’t make the most of CA devolution deals while the offers stay open. It does mean, though, staying awake and smelling the coffee.

Will these deals only work for metropolitan areas?

How far are rumblings being made and being heard?
To what extent is the 'business community' speaking with 'one voice'?

Again, how effective,  how accountable and how transparent are LEPs?

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