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🕔25.Jul 2013

An Introduction to WM2015 by Kevin Johnson

The Coalition Government began its administration signalling that ‘localism’ and locally driven economic growth would be among its principal priorities. Prime Minister David Cameron has even mentioned localism in the same breath as deficit reduction and national health.

Three years in and we have just one directly elected mayor resulting from the May 2012 referendum and 39 under resourced LEPs. Lord Heseltine’s attempt to shift the tectonic plates in Whitehall has left quite a few big stones unturned. In adjoining policy areas, Police and Crime Commissioners are proving controversial – some are (shock) exercising their power to sack Chief Constables and at least one never fails to remind us he doesn’t really want the job. Transport – below the strata of blue ribband airport and high speed rail megaprojects – remains as complicated as ever with a myriad of agencies all battling to run the signal boxes.

The Comprehensive Spending Review last month effectively signalled the start of the run in to the 2015 General Election campaign. As the parties begin gearing up their manifestos and the think tanks go into overdrive to pump out new ideas, RJF is launching a special series to explore the progress of localism and what stakeholders in our area want beyond 2015 when it comes to civic leadership and local democracy, economic development, skills and employability, housing and planning, transport and police and crime.

We will be taking a neutral and independent approach to WM2015, looking to engage  MPs and ministers, councillor and activists, advisers and think tanks with key players in our region to make sure the next Parliament makes more progress in delivering powers and budgets to locally accountable and fit for purpose bodies.

RJF’s political blog, the Chamberlain Files, will have a dedicated section featuring all the articles as part of WM2015. RJF will publish a set of briefing papers and policy backgrounders as well as running a series of workshops and seminars from the Autumn. We want to hear from you, with comments, blog posts and as panellists. If you are interested in shaping and taking part in WM2015, please drop Benjamin Mulvihill an email.

The articles, papers and events will consider a number of key themes, including:

  • Moving Bolders: What Next for LEPs after Heseltine?
  • The end of local government as we know it – how are local authorities coping?
  • The M Word – should Metro Mayors be on the Manifesto wish lists?
  • Democratic Deficit – how do we make local bodies accountable and engaged?
  • Police and Crime Commissioners – still on policy probation?
  • Off the rails – the future of locally driven public transport.

We start the WM2015 series today with a special feature from Chamberlain Files lead blogger Paul Dale charting the course from the abolition of the old West Midlands County Council to today and in particular the story of LEPs. Today also sees the publication of the Government’s response to the BIS Select Committee report on LEPs which we will be analysing.

Follow @ChamberlainFiles and @RJFPA or the #WM2015 hashtag for updates and don’t forget to drop us a line if you want to shape ideas ready for the next election.

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