Regional agency concerns raised

Ministers planning to shake up the structure of regional government must be clear about how accountable they are locally while also ensuring they are business-led.

Ministers planning to shake up the structure of regional government must be clear about how accountable they are locally while also ensuring they are business-led.

Those were among the findings of a report by MPs on the business and enterprise committee, looking at the future of quangos such as the East of England Development Agency (Eeda).

The government wants to streamline the system with its local democracy, economic development, and construction bill, which is currently working its way through parliament.

That would scrap regional assemblies and give bodies, such as Eeda, power to oversee regional strategic planning.


You may also want to watch:


The report said there was strong support for the agencies, but flagged up concerns about the lack of clarity about democratic accountability in the bill, and how the regional development agencies (RDAs) would work with councils.

Peter Luff, committee chairman, said the inquiry found widespread support for a regional level of government for economic development purposes but there were concerns about the structure, work and responsibilities of RDAs.

Most Read

'In particular we are concerned about the tendency of governments to add responsibilities to RDAs that may distract them from their core tasks and then to cut, or 'dip into' their budgets to address other short-term funding difficulties,' he said. 'A single integrated regional strategy will impact on many aspects of peoples' lives and it is important that all these interests are represented during the drafting process.

'The bill is well-intentioned, but good intentions may not be enough,' he added. 'If business-led RDAs are to have a greater role in regional strategy, the government needs to be clearer about how local democratic interests will be protected. We are disappointed that these details have not been available during the bill's passage through the House of Lords and call on the government to provide this information before the bill is considered by the House of Commons.'

Richard Ellis, Eeda chairman, said: 'I am very pleased that the report endorses the need to deliver economic development at the regional level and highlights the important contribution we have made. As a business-led organisation, with many of our staff having experience in the private sector, we are able to respond swiftly, flexibly and effectively to support the economy in the East of England, which is especially important at the moment.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus