Saturday, 23 June 2018

A great deal....of bureaucracy

DOUG COLLIE reports on the overwhelming committee structure needed to run the Edinburgh & South East Scotland  City Region deal.

Newly published documents outlining how the much trumpeted Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region deal will accelerate economic growth across six local authority areas also reveal that the administrative system required to deliver the 600 million pounds project will have no fewer than twelve separate committees, boards and advisory groups.

The Scottish and UK Governments have each pledged 300 million pounds for the deal over the next fifteen years, and it is claimed the venture will result in 1.3 billion pounds in investment for Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian Councils.

A 51-page document outlining the deal which will be considered by members of Scottish Borders Council later this week states: "City of Edinburgh Council will act as the accountable body for the city region deal finances. All grant funding from Government will be channeled through the City of Edinburgh Council with the exception of the Sheriffhall Roundabout project. Edinburgh Council will be the authority to hold others to account should projects present a risk to the overall programme”.

The Borders share of the cake is expected to be a 25 million pounds innovative industrial park for high quality business space at Tweedbank, close to the Borders railway terminus as well as additional housing development, also in the Tweedbank area.

But the large collection of bodies which are apparently essential to oversee and monitor the city deal may well attract criticism. The cost of administration could be considerable, and could tie up senior councillors and many council officers in a never ending string of regular meetings.

These are the separate entities mentioned in the report:

Joint Committee – comprising leaders of the six local authorities, a uni/college representative, a business sector representative and a third sector representative. Will meet at least quarterly
Regional Enterprise Council – approximately 12 members – To meet quarterly.
Executive Board – the six chief executives from the local authorities, a university/college representative, six local government representatives responsible for the economy: Government colleagues to attend meetings as observers. To meet monthly
Regional Directors’ Group – 13 members – monthly meetings on alternative fortnights to executive board.
Finance Directors’ GroupTo meet quarterly.
Innovation Advisory Group – Representatives from local authorities, Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) institutions, Government agencies – meetings schedule to be confirmed.
HE/FE Group – university/college representatives – meet quarterly.
Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Delivery Board – meet monthly
Integrated Regional Employability & Skills Board – 18 members – “regular meetings”.
Regional Transport Appraisal Board (TAB) – meetings schedule to be confirmed.
IMPACT Scotland Board – to monitor progress – meet every ten weeks

City Region Housing Board – ten members + two observers – meet bi-monthly

The city deal report claims: "Prosperity and success is not universal across the city region: 22.4% of children are living in poverty ; there is a lack of mid-market and affordable housing; and too many people are unable to move on from low wage/low skill jobs. The City Region Deal will address these issues; it will accelerate growth, create new economic opportunities, and meaningful new jobs that will help to reduce inequalities."

It is to be hoped it won't become bogged down in red tape generated by its dozen individual committees and boards. The six participating councils obviously believe the twelve groupings complete with members and administrative back-up are vital to the success of the project.

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