Purpose Built for Failure? Local, Regional and National Government in Britain

“A critical analysis of the formal structure of government in Britain as it relates to questions of regional and local development is presented. According to a broadly economic framework, the argument is developed that the way that two of the most influential policies—local economic development and land-use planning—have developed is increasingly in conflict with the present structure of government. The logic of the policies is only compatible with a regional tier of government.

The emerging paradigm for regional policy prescribes a ‘bottom-up’ approach to development which is focused on supply-side instruments. But policy in England is entirely driven and largely delivered from the centre. Wales and Scotland have an administrative structure which is rather less inconsistent with ‘bottom-up’ policies. Land-use planning, which in practice has a significant impact on the regional pattern of development, has been increasingly displaced to the most local tier of government—the districts. Conflict between the goals and implementation of policy arises in this case because, although the costs of physical development are contained at the local level, the benefits of development arise at the regional level.

Thus two policy sectors which should be complementary and coordinated are increasingly in conflict; and the economic logic of the policies is inconsistent with the governmental structures through which they are delivered. The solution to this problem is the introduction of a regional tier of government and an appropriate balance of functions between national, regional, and local government.”

Published in Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy | P. Cheshire | 1992, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Purpose-Built-for-Failure-Local%2C-Regional-and-in-Cheshire-D%E2%80%99Arcy/f86ec69fa5052e6e4d297d213e0a4c4d9358eaef, https://consensus.app/details/solution-problem-introduction-government-balance-cheshire/33215023405e530d8d2625c7574ab710/