The Select Committee published its report on regeneration today. Here is what Jackie had to say in her Estates Gazette blog.
What a disappointment. What a waste of time, money and energy. Worst of all, what a wasted opportunity.
We had such high hopes. After long campaigning to rescue regeneration from oblivion at the time of the election we had been pleased (admittedly we are sometimes easily pleased) to get any document out of Government with “Regeneration” in the title. We commented at the time that it was a starting point and needed further work on key issues. And we clarified these arguments in our formal evidence to the Committee. We made clear to the Select Committee in our oral evidence that it was “work in progress”. The Committee took lots of evidence and we expected them to move the debate on. Instead we have had dished up golden age nostalgia.
69 pages (excluding appendices) of the “same old same old”. Why did we bother? There was absolutely no point in various parties (ourselves, the BPF, countless others) giving evidence at all. The pre “old Labour” (not even “old Labour” or “new Labour”) lobby has clearly forced their majority on the Committee. A massive chance to responsibly resuscitate regeneration activity in the UK seems to have been (expletive deleted) up against the wall, in pursuit of pathetic machine politics. I can only hope that the disadvantaged people of the UK are grateful for this posturing on their behalf.
Frankly, it is so bad that one can only but hope that the report sinks without trace. Let it fall like a stone. We in UKR certainly won’t be drawing this lamentable tome to anyone’s attention. But in case anyone is looking for a comment, then for the record, and on behalf of decent thinking regeneration practitioners: be aware that the written report is a complete whitewash. Anyone who was there for any of the proceedings (as I was for most) would tell you it wasn’t all critical of the government, particularly in respect of localism. But blimey! You’d certainly never know from the result.
And even were you to accept any of the analysis in the report, viz: that we need to return to wholesale government grant funding (and THAT never bloody worked anyway) we all know we couldn’t afford any of it. And there’s no suggestion as to where the money would come from. It is a self indulgent load of old tosh. Absurd. It is the Greek prime minister pretending to his people that they have a choice. It is the GLC declaring itself a “nuclear free zone” in the mid 70s. It simply evokes the response “oh grow up!”.
The critical question that the Select Committee should have asked is this: is the government doing the things that central government should be doing? By not asking that question, the Select Committee has let the government off the hook. By collapsing into nostalgia and not proffering its own alternative strategy the Committee has left an open goal. We can imagine the Government’s response to this report even now. It will offer a few tweaks, reiterate the argument about the deficit and play the localism card. This is rather like being sent home to do your course work all over again.
Where is the creativity? Where are the innovative ideas about how to utilise assets better in a deficit? We need new thinking. Thank goodness that the EG is working with UKR on the Build a Better Britain Regeneration Commission (see blog yesterday) because there is just SUCH a vacuum here.