In this book we make use of library research, policy analysis and our own empirical material to discuss the development in England of government policies on regionalism and localism, their impact and their implications for future developments. Our empirical data are derived from a longitudinal qualitative study of representatives of key regional and local institutions, using depth interviews. The project commenced in summer 2009, and work began immediately on the selection of three appropriate regions and of the members of the panel from each of the regions chosen. The regions were chosen to include large and medium sized cities but also more rural areas of the country. We have chosen not to name the specific regions since we were asked to maintain confidentiality by some of our interviewees.
In 2009/10 the first round of interviews was completed, which included local political leaders and local authority chief executives, business leaders, CEOs of the 3rd Sector and representatives from the relevant Regional Government Offices (GOs) and Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). In addition, two Regional Ministers were interviewed. The timing of the second round of interviews had to be split to accommodate changes introduced by the incoming government. In early 2011 we interviewed representatives of all those regional bodies due for imminent closure under the Coalition Government reforms. The rest of the interviews were completed between October 2011 and early 2012. We were also able to include two representatives of the new institutional arrangements being created by the Coalition Government. All planned interviews were then completed. However, the slow pace with which the Coalition Government implemented its policies was such that by Autumn 2013, most Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) had still not completed their Local Economic Growth Plans, and none of the second tranche of City Deals had been agreed. Since we had panel members who were now members of Local Enterprise Partnership Boards, or involved in sub-groups within them or were advisers to them, we decided to conduct an additional set of selected interviews to determine the situation inside the LEPs and the likely outcomes of these developments. These interviews took place in September and October 2013.
David M. Smith Enid Wistrich December 2013
We are extremely grateful to the James Madison Trust, its board members and particularly John Pinder for supporting this project.
We are also very grateful to all those who collaborated with us by agreeing to be interviewed. These were all very busy people yet they were happy for us to return two and sometimes three times to interview them at length. It is the quality of these interviews more than anything that has made this project what it is.
Some of the material has been used in preliminary publications. In particular:
Smith, D.M. and Wistrich, E. (2012) “Devolution, Localism, and Good Governance in England”, Journal of African and Asian Local Government Studies (JAALGS), 1 (4);
Smith, D.M. (2013) “Democratic deficit, citizen engagement and Localism policies
in England”, Citizen2 conference proceedings e-book, Inter-Disciplinary.net;
Smith, D.M. (2014) 'Decentralisation and Localism in England: theory and practice', Politsci'13, International Conference on Political Science, Proceedings, Istanbul University, DAKAM.
We are very grateful to the publishers for agreeing to our including this material in the book.
Longitudinal projects always take their toll so we would also like to thank our spouses, Susan and Ernest, for their help and also their patience.
As the research has progressed we have reported on developments at various conferences where we have received helpful and constructive comments from other participants. That said, any failings are, of course, our own.