Eric Pickles is to close down a regional bureaucracy which had been costing £16 million a year as part of the coalition government’s review of spending promises made since the New Year.
The minister has put plans in motion to move swiftly to dismantle the funding and powers of regional local authority leaders’ boards, which took over most of the functions and staff of the old regional assemblies and are part of the bureaucratic regional structures the coalition government is committed to scrapping.
The boards are set to become redundant as the complex regime of regional spatial strategies, which wrested powers on transport, housing and planning powers away from local councils, are abolished.
The dismantling of these boards will see local authorities put firmly back in control of delivering the services and provision for their area and will ensure local people can hold their leaders to account.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said:
This is another step in wresting control from the bureaucrats, stopping the top down diktats and axing unelected, ineffective quangos.
This is the nail in the coffin of the unelected, unaccountable and unwanted regional assemblies.
We are unravelling this complex system, putting the community back in charge of how their area develops and saving the public purse £16 million at the same time.
Regional leaders boards had an overall budget of £16 million per year - by closing them down, at least £6 million will be saved this year from their running costs. The decision will also save local taxpayers money as boards also received funding from local councils of more than £10 million last year.
Two other projects are also being suspended.
- the Homes and Communities Agency and Yorkshire Forward have paused any further investment in the Sevenstone Sheffield retail quarter regeneration project pending a review of whether the project could deliver better value for money and a clearer assessment of risks
- further Homes and Communities Agency funding of up to £10 million towards the Kent Thameside Strategic Transport Programme has been suspended and will be considered as part of the forthcoming Spending Review