Dan Peters 04 July 2018

Hawthorne: Local industrial strategies could go same way as devolution

Parts of the country could be left behind when Whitehall rolls out its local industrial strategies, a senior Local Government Association (LGA) figure has warned.

Chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, Mark Hawthorne, said he was concerned that the Government’s enthusiasm for local industrial strategies would wane as it had for devolution.

Speaking at the LGA’s annual conference this afternoon, Cllr Hawthorne said lessons should be learned from the sector’s devolution experience, where too many of the bids were ‘too vanilla’ and failed to stress individual areas’ unique selling points.

Cllr Hawthorne said local industrial strategies were a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ but said there was a ‘genuine fear that the resources necessary’ to deliver them were not in place.

He continued: ‘To date, there has been very little guidance from Government on local industrial strategies.

‘I think many of us fear – a bit like the devolution debate that we had two years ago – that there will be parts of the country that simply get left behind.

‘The risk – and it’s a very big risk – is that Government does half a job and non-metropolitan areas miss out.’

Speaking at the same session, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, Irene Lucas, urged councils to ‘take charge’ of the messaging about their place instead of leaving it to local enterprise partnerships.

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