Dari TaylorLabour today attacked the further confusion over the Tories’ policy over the Region’s Development Agency, One North East.

Local Tories in Teesside today have proposed setting up a panel which would include well-known Tory supporters, their own Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and past Tory Candidates, to determine the future of the successful RDA. 

This follows continued confusion amongst Tory Shadow Ministers on the future of Regional Development Agencies such as One North East. In the last month, David Cameron and three other Tory frontbenchers have announced different policies on which RDAs they would keep and which they would scrap.  

Chair of the North East Select Committee and MP for Stockton South, Dari Taylor said;

"At a time when business continues to need support and stability from government, the Tories' policy on the North East is not thought through and will undermine local industry. The Tories want just a talking shop that has no power to develop industry. They will get rid of the Regional Development Agency, the development of which has supported off-shore wind, biofuels, the electric car and now long-mileage batteries.

We’ve had various Shadow Ministers coming out with different positions on One North East, from those wanting it axed completely to those wanting to strip it of key powers.

Now we’ve got local Tories wanting to strip it of Leadership and purpose just when businesses need it the most. The Tories’ policy is in a real mess and I’m not sure even they know what it is. It exposes their lack of commitment to One North East. They are adding to uncertainty and undermining efforts to help the region’s economy.

One North East has performed a vital role in helping many businesses in the Tees Valley through the recession. It’s work has been backed by every Employer Association and an Independent Auditor who said that for every £1 spent, the Development Agency generates four times as much economic output.”

"When David Cameron isn't even capable of leading his own team in a united policy of support for regional and local economies, how can he expect people to believe he is capable of leading our country out of recession?"


Notes to Editors:

  1. Tees Valley Conservatives have today called for a working group to be established to look at how One North East’s powers could be reduced. Membership of their working group includes two current Tory PPCs and one former Tory Candidate.
  2. In recent weeks, a variety of Tory frontbenchers have announced entirely different policies on the scrapping or retention of various RDAs:

    David Cameron: Only Southern RDAs would be abolished
    "So basically what you’ll see if you get a Conservative government is we’ll get rid of – this doesn’t apply so much in London – but get rid of all those regional bodies, the Regional Assemblies, the Regional Development Agencies in the south of England, some of the regional transport quangos, get rid of those, give the money to the lowest tier and get rid of so much of the ring-fencing, and also we would abolish the standards board which I think is just a forum to make vexatious complaints about each other. If you think a politician has screwed up, vote them out."
    David Cameron, Cameron Direct (Richmond), 19 October 2009

    and then George Osborne: Southern and Midlands RDAs would be abolished:
    George Osborne said regional development agencies in Yorkshire, the North East and the North West are "the three most likely candidates" to remain, provided they had the support of the business community and local authorities. The Tory MP said: "You should create political structures around identities that already exist. It's the best foundation."
    Yorkshire Post, 27 October 2009

    and then Geoffrey Clifton Brown: All RDAs except London would be abolished
    Mr Clifton-Brown emphasised that, should the Tories win the General Election RDAs would go. “By and large they are going to be abolished,” he said. “It is quite unnecessary to have an RDA structure. It is a tier of government which is not needed.” RDAs having offices around the world competing for inward investment was a “hugely wasteful” system; this role would be upscaled and handed to UK Trade & Investment, the government agency responsible for promoting international trade. The planning role of RDAs would be transferred to local councils. He said Conservative plans meant some small teams would be left in the regions as a first point of contact for inward investors and exporters, but that would be it. He then shocked his listeners by declaring that the London RDA would continue, producing a ripple of protest around the room at the Financing Recovery conference”
    Birmingham Post, 30 October 2009

    and also Stewart Jackson: All RDAs would be abolished within a week of Tory govt
    A Conservative government would abolish regional development agencies within its first week if the party wins the next general election, the shadow communities and local government minister said last week. Speaking at a Regeneration & Renewal event co-hosted with Basildon Renaissance Partnership, Stewart Jackson said that RDAs would be abolished under a Tory government and their funding handed instead to elected local mayors. His statement on the future of the RDAs is the strongest yet from the Tories. Jackson has repeatedly stated that the RDAs would be abolished under the Conservatives, but other Tories, including former shadow business secretary Alan Duncan, have said that the agencies would be stripped of planning powers and asked to focus on economic development. However, Jackson also suggested that one of the RDAs, understood to be One North-East, could be retained and exist as a local enterprise partnership
    Regeneration & Renewal, 21 September 2009
  3. England’s Regional Development Agencies have achieved a great deal during the economic downturn, and are a vital part of the Government’s strategy for delivering recovery and future prosperity. Abolition of the RDAs or reducing their ability to assist regional economies would make it more difficult to help business to grow, attract inward investment and plan properly for the recovery. A report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers on the impact of RDA spending showed that:

    Between 2002-03 and 2006-07:
    - for every £1 spent by RDAs, an average of £4.50 of economic output (or Gross Value Added - GVA) was invested back into regional economies
    And that with this investment, RDAs:
    - created and protected nearly 213,000 jobs
    - supported over 35,000 businesses
    - helped to create over 8,500 businesses
    - assisted over 403,000 people in improving their skills
    - cleaned up over 570 hectares of polluted brownfield land