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Change must not damage our success

NEXT year we will potentially see a huge change in how we are governed.

NEXT year we will potentially see a huge change in how we are governed.

The Conservative Party seems to have taken over from Labour as the most popular party in the public opinion polls and while I am not a political animal, I am concerned about their approach to regional governance.

While I don’t know exactly what they have planned – because the message seems to change depending on who you are listening to – the party is definitely committed to ‘localism’, giving powers back to local authorities and, by implication, the voting public.

In their policy green paper Control Shift: Returning Power to Local Communities, they talk about removing ‘a distant and remote tier of ineffective regional government’.

That might be true of the South East, but it is not in the North of England where regional development agencies have been very successful.

In terms of the ‘property economy’, however, I think the Conservative approach is fraught with potential problems.

Although I do not agree with everything they do, I believe that One North East, our regional development agency, does a fantastic job. While it clearly works closely with local authorities, it is not an elected body and as such is a ‘quango’ and one which the Conservatives seem intent on dismantling.

The alternative – reportedly – will be to set up regional enterprise panels, each made up of a significant group of local authorities, possibly 10 to a dozen, which will take over responsibilities for things like regional development planning.

This worries me because having worked with local authorities I think they are very good at some things but not particularly well designed for others.

One North East has given the region a focus and a powerful voice with which we have fought our corner at a national and European level. They are an organisation that has goals and works hard on delivery.

Kevan Carrick is partner in JK Property Consulting LLP and policy spokesman for RICS North East

 

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