Thursday, 22 July 2010

Pickles prunes local government offices

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has announced plans to abolish the Government Offices for the Regions.

Mr Pickles sees them as an unnecessary and anti-democratic layer of local government which must go. According to the CLG, his decision so far is to abolish these organisations 'in principle' - which seems to be not very coded language for, 'We'll do it during the autumn spending review.'

Eric Pickles said, "Let me be clear: The Government Offices are not voices of the region in Whitehall. They have become agents of Whitehall to intervene and interfere in localities, and are a fundamental part of the 'command and control' apparatus of England's over-centralised state."

What are the implications of this?

Government Offices for the English Regions (their full title) link closely with local housing and planning functions, and they are part of the Sustainable Communities Agenda. According to their own publicity they:
  • work alongside the Government’s Neighbourhood Renewal Unit to tackle social exclusion
  • contribute to the development of policies to ensure they reflect regional and local issues, as well assessing how policies should be delivered in each region
  • work with the voluntary and community sector to deliver Neighbourhood Renewal programmes
HouseMark carries links to each Government Office on the Club zone of our website. It is clear that multiple tiers of local government are being steadily erased. For example, the old Government Office website now links to the Government Office Network - perhaps we should call it 'GONE' for short?!

Eric Pickle's full statement can be found here.

According to, Shadow communities secretary John Denham has criticised the move saying, "It is a decision being made under the guise of 'localism' but it will see a huge centralisation of power into Whitehall ministries."

Regional Development Agencies

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are also arranged on Mr Pickle's chopping board. These are responsible for promoting economic development throughout the English regions and they have expertise in a wide range of areas, including:
  • property development
  • strategic planning
  • sustainable and low-carbon development
  • economic infrastructure provision
  • identifying skills for business development
RDAs will be superseded by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), which are seen as more effective structures.

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