SETTING THE SCENE
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
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