Axing One North East would be "disastrous for region" - Winterton

Labour's Regional Economic Development Minister Rosie Winterton MP today slammed the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over their plans for the future of Regional Development Agency, One North East.

Tory proposals would see the Agency stripped of key powers whilst Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor Vincent Cable has called for the organisation's abolition.

During a visit to the North East , Rosie Winterton met with local Council Leaders to hear about how the Regional Development Agency is helping local businesses through the recession.

After the meeting Rosie Winterton MP said,

"It's been good to be here today to hear first hand the difference One North East is making. The co-ordinated approach being taken here is giving a boost to the North East economy and helping the region come through the recession."
 
"The Tories are all over the place when it comes to RDAs. On the one hand Tory Councillors recognise the importance of coordination across the region, whereas the Tory shadow cabinet wants to abolish RDAs altogether."

"By working with Local Authorities, including a number run by Conservatives and Lib Dems, One North East is delivering real help to people and businesses. One North East is generating £4 for every £1 it spends. Stripping it down, as David Cameron proposes, or axing it completely as the Lib Dems want, would be disastrous for the region."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

·        David Cameron has pledged on several occasions to scrap RDAs or strip them of functions.

"Housing and planning powers are going to be stripped from regional government and given to local, democratically-elected government.and what's more you'll have the power to form local enterprise partnerships so that you can abolish the regional development agencies and reclaim more money for economic development."
David Cameron, Speech to the Local Government Association Conference, 02 July 2009

"I think the entire experiment with regional government, with regional assemblies, with many of the regional development agencies, I think that has been a complete waste and that should go."
David Cameron, Cameron Direct (Worcester), 29 August 2008

"We will abolish the regional assemblies and return their powers to local councils - not to the unelected Regional Development Agencies as the Government plans to do."
David Cameron. Speech to the Young Foundation, 13 November 2007

. [We will] strip the Regional Development Agencies of their powers over planning; and give local governments the power to establish their own local enterprise partnerships to take over development functions from RDAs;

Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities, Responsibility Agenda, Conservative Party Policy Green Paper No. 9, Published 17 February 2009, Pg 4

We believe that, in every case, the non-economic activities of development agencies should be localised, so we will immediately remove from RDAs all the powers they have been given as part of the present Government's attempt to turn them into unelected regional governments - including powers over housing, planning and 'regional spatial strategies'. These powers will immediately be given to elected local governments.
Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities, Responsibility Agenda, Conservative Party Policy Green Paper No. 9, Published 17 February 2009, Pg 30

So we will also give elected local authorities the power to come together to establish new enterprise partnerships that truly reflect natural economic divisions, and to take over from their RDAs the responsibility for economic development within those areas.
Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities, Responsibility Agenda, Conservative Party Policy Green Paper No. 9, Published 17 February 2009, Pg 30

These locally-established enterprise partnerships need to be non-bureaucratic and totally focused on helping businesses out of recession and into growth. To ensure that this need is met, the Secretary of State for BERR will be required to satisfy himself that the areas covered by the new enterprise partnerships reflect natural economic patterns and have strong business leadership before he transfers to them the money currently spent by the RDAs.
Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities, Responsibility Agenda, Conservative Party Policy Green Paper No. 9, Published 17 February 2009, Pg 30

·        Vincent Cable MP, Shadow Chancellor for the Liberal Democrats has proposed that Regional Development Agencies should be abolished.

"Curbing "industrial policy", including scrapping Regional Development Agencies (£2.3 billion annually) and EGCD subsidies (£100 million annually) and reducing (by at least half) the Train to Gain and Skills Councils budgets (£990 million together a year).
Tackling the Fiscal Crisis by Vincent Cable MP, Reform, Sept 2009, p7

Regional Development Agencies no doubt perform some useful tasks in support of business activity and they will argue that they "create jobs", though whether this is the best way to create employment is doubtful. RDA's appear to be more valued in traditionally depressed areas like the North East and serve far less obvious a purpose in the South East or East of England or London. The nine RDAs spent £2.3 billion in 2007-08 (excluding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Some funds could be reallocated to local authorities but there should still be scope for large savings.
Tackling the Fiscal Crisis by Vincent Cable MP, Reform, Sept 2009 p47