Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by Councillor Nic Dakin (RG 63)

  This is a brief submission made in a personal capacity but drawing on my experience for six years as a member of the Regional Assembly for Yorkshire and the Humber and more latterly, my two years as Yorkshire Forward Board Member. I make the following observations:

    —  Devolution of powers to regional level continues apace. Most recent examples of this include business links responsibilities and the quasi regionalisation of LSCs. This trend is both welcome and appropriate.

    —  Wherever possible power should continue to be devolved to the level closest to the people. This may be European, national, regional, local or area level. (Where area level involves communities on geographical basis smaller than the local government boundaries).

    —  Individuals operating at regional level put a huge amount of work in. There are a number of paid employees operating at regional level. Regional governance is, however, precarious. A lot of people do their best but regional governance, however important, is marginal to their principal driving concerns. These tend to be local government based or from voluntary, community, other public or private sectoral interest.

    —  Only directly elected members to a regional body will properly address the vulnerability of regional governance. This would also, of course, tackle head on the issue of accountability. This would also lead to simplification of the current system.

    —  Current arrangements lack clarity for the general public. Whilst the Assembly, the RDA and Government Office work broadly well together one can't help but wonder if the model is simple, efficient and effective. The accountability lines are distorted.

    —  City regions work well as an economic concept like travel to work areas or travel to learn areas. It would be a significantly flawed approach to turn these into units of governance or government. Such a move would exacerbate confusion in the public mind, increase tensions at regional and local level, and distract energy from the key task of driving up the region's performance.

    —  Closer inter-regional co-operation is more than desirable; it is essential. People don't operate within governmental boundaries whether they be geographic or otherwise. If we are to achieve the best for the people we serve we must co-operate with a purpose.

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