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2011 - Sub-National Development - Pugalis

2011 - Sub-National Development - Pugalis

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Published by: lorna_gibbons on Jul 23, 2011
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Sub-national economic development: Where do we go from here?
Lee Pugalis, September 2010
 Paper should be cited as:
Pugalis, L. (2011) 'Sub-national economic development: where do we go from here?',
 Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal,
4 (3), pp. 255-268.
The UK‘s Li
 beral Democrat
Conservative (Lib
Con) Coalition Government has
 been quickly dismantling New Labour‘s policy framework since it gained political control in
May 2010. Contemplating how this transition might play out and the impact uponregeneration policy, a preliminary map of the road from the incumbent English RegionalDevelopment Agencies to myriad Local Enterprise Partnerships is sketched out. The analytic
interpretations are based on insights ‗in the field‘ over the past decade and grounded in policy‗chatter‘. Reflecting on the importance of timing, resource availability and the policy vacuum
arising between localities and national government, attention is drawn to countless questionsthat remain unanswered. Further, the Lib
‘s sub
-national economic policy architecture isdemonstrated as remaining very much work in progress. The paper highlights that the currenttransitional period is likely to be disorderly and possibly ineffective: deconstruction is allwell and good if the alternative reconstructions offer added value, but the potential to lose outis significant. While hope is expressed with a localism agenda which could potentiallyempower localities to devise unique policy solutions administered by tailored spatialconfigurations, it is cautioned that new spatio-
institutional ‗fixes‘ may open up new issues
 just as old ones are closed off. A policy story still being written, the analysis is of broader international appeal. Consequently, those plying their trade outside England can reflect onthis and act accordingly the next time a new (and presumably better) policy innovation is proposed.
Sub-national governance, regeneration, economic policy, regional development agencies and local enterprise partnerships
Dr Lee PugalisSenior Lecturer Urban Theory and Practice, Northumbria UniversityVisiting Fellow, Global Urban Research Unit, Newcastle Universitylee.pugalis@northumbria.ac.uk  
Since the emergence of regional industrial policy in the 1930s, followed by an explicit urban policy focus not long after, England has become a veritable laboratory for sub-nationaleconomic policy innovations. Usually, this tends to involve reshuffling the pack of cards
resulting in variable spatial ‗fixes‘ and governance reworkings. It is therefore no surprise thatthe UK‘s Liberal
Conservative (Lib
Con) Coalition Government has been quickly
dismantling New Labour‘s policy framework since David Cameron (Conservative Party
Leader and now Prime Minister) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat Leader and now DeputyPrime Minister) shook on a deal in May 2010. On 22nd June, 2010, George Osborne, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out his ‗Emergency‘ Budget with a five
-year plan to rebuildthe British economy.
The plan sets out tough action to tackle the public-sector budget deficitand change the tax system, as well as measures to encourage enterprise and stimulate private-sector-led economic prosperity. As a result, it is widely expected that regeneration over the
next decade will be more austere than it was under New Labour‘s stew
ardship during the previous decade.
 While the details are lacking at the time of writing (September 2010), and what littlehas been publicised by Ministers has often been contradictory, the Budget formalised theLib
‘s intent to replace the incumbent
eight English Regional Development Agencies(RDAs) outside London with myriad Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
Paragraph 1.8 of the Budget states that
[t]he Government will enable locally elected leaders, working with business, to lead localeconomic development. As part of this change, [RDAs] will be abolished through the PublicBodies Bill. A White Paper later in
… 2010 will set out details of these
proposals. As part of this, the Government will: support the creation of strong [LEPs], particularly those based
around England‘s major cities and other natural economic areas, to enable improved
coordination of public and private investment in transport, housing, skills, regeneration andother 
areas of economic development‘.
This briefest of statements was followed by a letter from Government, dated 29th June 2010,
inviting ‗councils and business leaders to come together to consider how [they] wish to form
enabling councils and business to replace the existing
Guided by the objective ‗to help strengthen local economies‘, LEPs are put forward
 by the Coalition Government as the only key apparatus by which to reform sub-nationaleconomic development. Penned by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovationand Skills, and Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the
letter claims that Government is ‗working with the [RDAs] to enable this transition:[Government] are reviewing all the functions of the RDAs‘, surmising that ‗some of these are
 best led nationally, such as inward investment, sector leadership, responsibility for business
support, innovation, and access to finance‘. It can be contended, however, that
, if all these present RDA functions were centralised, t
his would significantly undermine the Coalition‘s
localism agenda, together with the ability of LEPs to influence their local economies.In contemplating how the transition may play out, a preliminary map of the road fromRDAs to LEPs is sketched out. The analytic interpretations given are based on the author 
insights ‗in the field‘ over the past decade, including stints as a civil servant (at the then
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Government Office for London), quango employee(representing One North East Regional Development Agency), researcher (based at Newcastle University), and more recently a local government officer (serving Durham
County Council). Grounded in policy ‗chatter‘ influenced by and influencing blogs, news
stories and articles
, alongside ‗official‘ — 
although often contradictory
ministerial pronouncements and letters, departmental press releases and snippets of text in Government publications, it is demonstrated that the Lib
‘s sub
-national economic policy architectureremains very much work in progress. Though the analytical focus of this paper is spatiallyspecific to England, the policy story unfolding of economic space in transition is of wider appeal. It is hoped that the international community of researchers, practitioners, policymakers and academics can draw on these insights to help inform the scale, scope and pace of economic policy transitions in other spatial contexts.
The remainder of the paper analyses England‘s transitional sub
-national economic policy. In the next section, a brief background to the role and purpose of RDAs is provided astheir eventual downfall is analysed. The third section examines the intended function of LEPs. In the fourth section, the previous analysis used to theorise the transition from RDAsto LEPs is drawn upon. The paper concludes at a preliminary point with some final thoughts.

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