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Responding to the new Localis report ‘Making an Industrial Strategy – taking back control locally’, Cllr Neil Clarke, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said:
“Districts are leading efforts to drive efficiency, innovation and local growth and stand ready to play a key role in working to achieve the aims set out in the Industrial Strategy. We are pleased that this report backs our call for increased funding for local areas and greater local freedoms and flexibilities to incentivise and boost local growth. It is also right to recognise what is being done to promote economic growth and improve services in non-metropolitan areas across the country.
“However, proposals setting out top-down approaches to geographical areas based on out-dated ceremonial boundaries are fundamentally flawed. When it comes to devolution, we remain clear that one size does not fit all. It must be down to local areas to determine governance arrangements which reflect what local people and businesses want and will work best to drive economic prosperity at a local and regional level. The 47 strategic authorities outlined in the report will therefore not always provide the most appropriate geography for which to drive growth across the country.
“Strategic partnerships must reflect the way in which people live their lives and any new Industrial Strategy must be rooted in the principles of people and place. It needs to be mapped around functional economic areas, housing market areas and travel to work areas so they are the most appropriate scale that relate to people and businesses. Ensuring local areas are connected to the right infrastructure is also vital if we are going to support increased economic growth.
“District councils up and down the country already have a strong track record of collaborative working across these functional economic areas to deliver housing and economic growth in their regions. It is important that any new Industrial Strategy capitalises on the potential and builds on the progress of these functional economic building blocks to ensure Britain remains competitive and one of the best places to do business in the world.”