New proposals have been published to ensure that the voices of social, economic and environmental partners are heard under changes to regional governance. The New Local Government Network (NLGN) report assesses the impact of the Government’s Sub-National Review on regional partners and offers a new direction for engaging them.
The Sub-National Review will mean that Regional Assemblies are dissolved and that new governance structures will be created in their place. The report recommends that new ‘expert advisory’ arrangements should be developed by the RDAs to ensure that they can make best use of expertise from partners across the region. This would ensure that those with a wide knowledge base in sectoral, financial and governance issues should be consulted when preparing the Regional Strategy.
The Sub-National Review, which was led jointly by the Treasury, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform considered how to strengthen economic performance in regions, cities and localities throughout the country. The recommendations included a proposal to combine the Regional Economic Strategies and Regional Spatial Strategies, giving local authorities greater influence over economic development.
To improve engagement between the RDAs and their partners the NLGN report also recommends establishing discussions between them through statutory commissioning and public bodies. It also suggests that stronger links with Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) – perhaps through an Annual Regional Conference – should be the means by which community organisations can get involved in regional decision-making.
Author of the report, Chris Leslie, Director of NLGN said:
“Local authorities and Regional Development Agencies will need to redefine their relationships with the outside world once the Regional Assemblies have been wound up in 2010. The Government does not seem fixed in recommending a particular model – which is why we have recommended an overhaul of how partners are engaged. We hope this will kick start a debate ensuring regional decisions are fully informed by key stakeholders.”
Simon Foy, Chief Economist, Yorkshire Forward said:
“The Social Economic and Environmental partners, who include business people, charities, trade unions and public sector organisations, will play a vital role in the delivery of the integrated regional strategy. Both their expertise in developing strategy and their capacity for delivery will be essential to our work following the sub-national review.”
Cllr Arthur Barker, Chair of Local Government Yorkshire and Humber said:
“Councils across Yorkshire and Humber welcome the opportunities provided in the SNR and within the region we have been quick to respond to these. We are determined to ensure the future arrangements within Yorkshire and Humber are appropriate to the needs of the region and council leaders and Yorkshire Forward have agreed a regional approach.
We have not forgotten our partners and their future role and that is why we joined with Yorkshire Forward to commissioned this research. We hope to ensure that in the new arrangements there is clarity about the role of partners and how they can add the most value”.