Planning Resource Magazine
this week carries the rather entertaining story that government ministers are preparing to establish a network of six regional teams intended to support the new "public-private-led" Local Enterprise Partnerships. One of my valued (although somewhat terse) correspondents, who is shortly to join a very prestigious planning consultancy (bravo Monsieur!), alerted me to the story in an e-mail thus: "The R Word. I thought the coalition had abandoned all regional structures - U-turn?"
The proposed regional teams are to be called "BIS Local". (This is a bit close to "Sainsbury's Local" for my taste; in a flippant moment on the bus the other day, I was wondering why Sainsbury's hadn't capitalised bit more on the splendid naming of their convenience stores in the localism debate. Sincere apologies to Sue Wilcox, she always has been a far subtler operator than me!)
The teams will "deliver areas of BIS policy, feed information on local economic issues back to Whitehall and provide locally based support and guidance to the joint public-private LEPs, which are intended to replace regional development agencies".
A BIS spokeswoman said: "It is important that BIS has a policy presence outside Whitehall so we can communicate effectively with local enterprise partnerships, businesses and other organisations. The network is still in the early stages of development, but it is expected that there will be six small teams in different parts of the country, although locations have not yet been confirmed. The teams will support BIS's overall objectives particularly those relating to growth, jobs and rebalancing the economy."
Hmmm. Well, you have to smile. First, the government removes all the structures which artificially attempted to create a separate, regionally accountable tier of governance (the RDAs, the Assemblies, the Regional Spatial Strategies in planning, the Government Offices) but now somebody has realised that, blow me down, it can be helpful for civil servants working on some issues to be organised around geographical areas, so a new thing gets invented.