Thursday, 7 February 2013

Not The Top Priority

Liam Carr writes:

Tories tell us that they are the pro-business party and the party of small government, but does business want less government? Business leaders in the North East have called for an additional region-wide level of governance1 like a North East assembly (that was rejected in a referendum). Or a body like the Greater London Council with the ability to take strategic action to develop business and promote employment at a regional level. The Government axed regional development agencies which carried out at least part of that role.

Councils should join up their thinking but it is not that straightforward. Durham Council have chosen not to impose council tax on the poorest households; instead they are reducing the rebate for empty properties. Unfortunately, North Tyneside are having to cave in to Eric Pickle's demand for the extraction of Council tax from families who can least afford to pay. Gateshead Council are maintaining arts funding, Newcastle are not. Circumstances are different in different places; there are more empty properties in Durham than in North Tyneside. Arts have been integral in the regeneration of Gateshead, while Newcastle are looking for other solutions.

Councils, business leaders and regional representatives such as MEPs should work together in existing structures but at a time when the mistakes of big business are being paid for by the most vulnerable, a costly reorganisation is not the top priority.

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