Last week Eric Pickles used his regular contribution to ConHome to explain how the Government’s abolition of Regional Development Agencies will help rebuild our fragile economy. He is right to prioritise local solutions to difficult economic challenges. RDAs were bureaucratic, lacked legitimacy and were based often on artificial geographical and political entities.
The situation in London is slightly different. The link of accountability between London’s Development Agency and our Mayor means that the capital has been largely ignored in discussions about Local Enterprise Partnerships but these joint-ventures between private enterprise and public funding and delivery should still have a role to play in driving economic growth in Greater London.
Partnerships between councils and business leaders are just as critical for development in London as in the regions. The last decade has taught us that answers to economic problems do not lie in a ministerial diktat or a stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. London is a complex city full of social contradictions. In many ways Westminster can be seen as a microcosm of this. We’re home to the world famous West End and more businesses choose to base themselves here than in anywhere else in the country but we are also fighting entrenched social problems typical of other inner city areas.
Local Enterprise Partnerships will provide a vehicle for private enterprise in partnership with Westminster and other local authorities to deliver truly local policies that overcome our collective challenges.
London is a brilliantly diverse and vibrant city. Homogeneity is not something that Londoners understand. Policies that work for us in Westminster are unlikely to suit Waltham Forest and might not even be right for Wandsworth. Economic strategies should reflect this.
I look forward to working with ministers and my colleagues in London to establish distinctive and successful partnerships to support a thriving capital city.