Posts Tagged ‘Ed Cox’

Hezza’s one man stand needs stronger sense of place

01/11/2012, 05:38:40 PM

by Ed Cox

It is always good to see a lone ranger riding into town, kicking wide the swing doors of the last chance saloon and calling on the assembled laggards to put their hands up high in the air. This is exactly what Lord Heseltine has done with No Stone Unturned – “one man’s vision” for national economic growth.

Amidst its 233 pages and 89 recommendations there is much to cheer about. The simple challenge that the country needs more than a plan for austerity is a welcome start. The strong emphasis on “reversing more than a century of centralisation” not simply with localist rhetoric and piecemeal initiative but though a £49 billion “single pot” for growth is a step-change in the debate that should make all political parties gulp. And there are many other very sensible recommendations on procurement, local business support and schools which have not made the headlines but could make a significant difference at the local level.

What is striking though for such a gun-slinging, private sector champion is the report’s preoccupation with structure. No stone unturned could equally read “no deckchair unmoved” as the detailed schema in the report’s annex set out in fine detail. Heseltine’s plans for a fundamental reorganisation of central government bodies and local structures are to allow for greater private sector involvement and a greater focus on growth. The emphasis on functional economic areas makes good sense and with it the bolstering of Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities – something that Labour would do well to back at the earliest opportunity and put to bed any notion of reinventing RDAs.


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