A thorough manifest focused on a fundamental shift in the way policy and economic development is designed, legislated for, strategised and delivered. The Centre for Local Economic Strategies is convinced that recent approaches do NOT have delivered strong enough social or local economic outcomes to deal with the issues many individuals and communities face. A clear statement. They plea (quoted from the report) for:
- More local control: CLES believes in devolution. However any devolution must be comprehensive and secure a more positive economic and social destiny for localities.
- Scale back public sector austerity: austerity has fettered economic recovery and failed to protect areas in greatest need. The austerity narrative is sterile, with an assumed trade off in which future prosperity is predicated on cuts. We don’t accept this. We believe decent public services and fairness work with – and for – prosperity.
- Alternative local economic policy making: we need an overhaul of local economic policymaking. A broader and deeper focus on social outcomes, alongside economic growth, needs to take place.
- Decent public services: public services need to be more reflective of the demands of users, based around more effective joined up working, and bringing a raft of wider economic, social and environmental benefits.
- Integrating transport and local economies: transport is a key element of local economic development and should be directed to satisfy both the needs of passengers and wider local strategic requirements. As such, rail and buses need to brought under more national and local state control.
- Resilient towns and town centres: the function of many high streets and towns is changing. We must create a new functionality looking at the totality of activity in these areas, not just retail.
- Creating and sustaining good jobs: employment support provision should be localised and tailored to the needs of individuals. Jobs created should be good quality, decently paid and sustainable.
It is a recommend report because of its overview and clear thinking. The foreword by Chair Michael Ward gives a clear insight in the public value driven manifest:
“This CLES Manifesto is underpinned by our values and principles and is based on the experience of our work in local economies over the past thirty years.
Top down approaches to local communities come and go. Whitehall always has a solution to hand, from Urban Development Corporations in the 1980s, to Local Enterprise Partnerships today.
But the same issues persist which characterised the 1980s and which stimulated our formation – unemployment, poor quality jobs and entrenched poverty.
Trickle-down economics has no more answers for the communities left behind by social and economic change today than it had thirty years ago. We have worked with localities to adopt different approaches to economic development, regeneration and local governance – and approaches which have been successful. This manifesto offers policy solutions based on these experiences which will enable an economy for all, and bring new hope.”
First published in Manchester in March 2015 by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. Copyright © Centre for Local Economic Strategies, 2015. ISBN: 1 870053 78