Memorandum by Yorkshire Forward (RG 57)
1.1 Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development
Agency for Yorkshire and Humber, is pleased to contribute to this
inquiry. We are aware that there is a combined RDA response, which
we support, and that many of our RDA colleagues are also intending
to make submissions.
2. REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
2.1 Yorkshire Forward is the RDA responsible
for the sustainable economic development of Yorkshire and Humber.
The organisation is one of eight RDAs in England, created under
the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 with the following
To further economic development and
To promote business efficiency, investment
To enhance development and application
of skills relevant to employment.
To contribute to the achievement
of sustainable development.
2.2 As a region-wide organisation who works
with a wide range of partners to deliver for the people and businesses
of the region we are well placed to comment on this inquiry.
3. KEY ISSUES
3.1 Increasing the accountability of decision
making and the regional and sub-regional level
3.1.1 RDA Accountability: As facilitators
for sub-regional and regional decision making on the expenditure
of the RDA "single pot", Yorkshire Forward delivers
to and on behalf of the region. The accountability procedures
that are in place, through the sub regional partnerships (particularly
for Sub Regional Investment Planning), the scrutiny process undertaken
by the regional assembly, the publication of an Annual Report
and Accounts, and a public Annual General Meeting are more than
adequate. Additionally, the National Audit Office is about to
commence an Independent Performance Assessment of the RDA which
will contribute to our accountability to the region.
3.1.2 However, there are some other options
that could be explored. One of these is to establish a Select
Committee for each of the regions, to ensure accountability to
the elected representatives from the region. Another would be
to have a specific time for questioning established in the House
of Commons which dealt only with regional issues with Ministers
from all Departments present.
3.1.3 Regional Accountability: With
regard to the regional assembly, some clarity on their role and
remit might be useful to the region, as they are the only truly
regional partnership. At this stage they would appear to have
a degree of some lack of accountability, and this could be addressed
in an appropriate way.
3.2 Potential for devolution of powers from
regional to local level
3.2.1 It is difficult to consider the "regional"
powers that are currently in existence, apart from the devolved
responsibility we have as an RDA for the expenditure of the "single
pot" and the various functions of the regional assembly.
3.2.2 There is a point to be made however
for greater decision making at the local level, but these would
be in areas other than those mentioned in paragraph 3.2.1. The
recent work of the RDA, the regional assembly and the Government
Office for Yorkshire and Humber on Regional Funding Allocations
is a good example of devolving power to the region and encouraging
input from a more localised perspective.
3.2.3 If there is a movement towards subsidiarity,
it must be recognised that this will need to involve a strong
regional presence and input. Local Authorities will always have
a democratic mandate but are not always best placed to deliver.
3.2.4 We do not have a view on the establishment
of an Elected Regional Assembly, should this ever come back onto
the Government's agenda.
3.3. Effectiveness of current arrangements
for managing services at the various levels and their inter-relationships
3.3.1 The current arrangements appear to
be working well. There has been a long-running review of the regional
assembly in Yorkshire and Humber which has affected the way the
assembly is perceived by some in the region. However, it has not
affected the operation of the assembly as it has contributed to
the review of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and lead on
the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).
3.3.2 The Local Authorities also appear
to be managing services well. Managed by the Association of Local
Authorities, we are a member of the Local Government Improvement
and Innovation Partnership, which is a capacity building programme
for officers and elected members. The region participated in a
pilot in 2004-05, having successfully bid for funding from ODPM.
The Partnership is in the final stages of negotiating on the approval
of a new strategy and funding for the coming three years.
3.3.3 The pilot programme did some work
around sharing best practice and joining up services on waste
management and ICT. These have contributed to the learning and
partnership working across the region. The Partnership hopes to
continue these types of activities and expand on them when the
new phase of funding is approved.
3.4 Potential for new arrangements, particularly
the establishment of city regions
3.4.1 Within Yorkshire and Humber there
are three city regionsSheffield, Leeds, and Hull and Humber
Ports. These city regions cover five million people and aim to
contribute to the growth of the north on an economic and geographical
3.4.2 We have supported the city regions
and the City Region Development Plans that have been proposed
by each area, and will continue to work with them to hopefully
attain a stronger alignment to the RES. We are firmly of the belief
that the economy should be the focus of the city regions, and
that the discussions around governance and city regions have been
3.4.3 We are in favour of city regional
work to bring together a wide range of issues. At the very least
they should cover the economy, skills, transport, planning and
housing, but would also advocate the inclusion of health, culture
and the environment. City regions must also engage with the expanding
regional agenda and should not become "mini regions"
in their own right.
3.5 Impact of new regional and sub-regional
arrangements, such as city regions, might have upon peripheral
towns and cities
3.5.1 Consideration must be given to those
cities and towns that fall outside of the defined city region
boundaries. There is also consideration to be given to those towns
and cities that cross regional boundaries also, particularly with
regard to the delivery of regeneration programmes.
3.5.2 It should also be recognised that
there is the potential for tension between the "core cities"
and other towns and cities within a city region.
3.5.3 Both of these issues need to be addressed
through collaborative working and through the genuine engagement
of those towns and cities that view themselves as being outside
the core towns and cities.
3.6 Desirability of closer inter-regional
cooperation (eg. Northern Way) to tackle economic disparities
3.6.1 The Northern Way aims to make the
North of England an area of exceptional opportunity, combining
a world class economy with a superb quality of life. We support
the concept of the Northern Way and are working closely with the
other two Northern RDAs, One North East and the North West Development
Agency, to make this vision a reality.
3.6.2 We are committed to ensuring close
working between the RDAs and the relevant Local Authorities, business,
and the voluntary and community sectors, as there is still work
to be done in this area to ensure the maximum benefit for the
North from this strategy.
3.6.3 The three Northern regions have worked
closely on the Comprehensive Spending Review, lead by Yorkshire
Forward, to negotiate for funding to implement the Northern Way
Business Plan, and there may be the need to review the role and
remit of the Northern Way when this Review is completed.