One of the consequences of the precipitous dismantling of strategic planning was the ending of official government recognition and support for growth areas, and indeed most of the extra funding and support that these areas had. But Boles at the DCLG Select Committee yesterday seems to have reinvented them.
“What we are doing is that we are working out a list of those authorities where either there seem to be particular problems, or where they are priority areas because they are priority areas for growth and development.”
In the absence of growth areas being determined by strategic plans them who and where will growth areas be determined. With for example the East of England Plan about to be revoked where does Cambridge get its designation as a Growth area, of Greater Norwich, or the Haven Gateway, one of the fastest growth areas in the UK? Indeed how will the Minister for Central Planning determine these in the absence, as required by European Directive, a consultation process and environmental report with realistic options for assessing the evidence of their impact? And dont say LEPS, they will all say they are growth areas and so far have zero technical capacity, and no democratic mandate, to do the work that the Autumn statement requires of them. The minister for Central Planning it would seem would be happier in corporatist Italy before the war rather than in the inevitably messy reality of democracy with competing interests and checks and balances.
A parliamentary question would be in order on what these priority areas are and on what evidential basis they are chosen and assessed.
Of course if the minister really wants a blow by blow authority by authority description of what is going wrong in the complete absence of the local knowledge supplied by government regional offices, which Micheal Hesiltine described Yesterday as throwing the Baby out with the bathwater, he can always ring me and set up a meeting.