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MAAs to be in place by summer

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The difficulty of innovative joint working was highlighted this week after the government revealed the 13 areas expected to have multi-area agreements (MAAs) in place by next summer.

The MAAs anticipated to cover the Regional Cities East (RCE) project - made up of the major towns and cities in East Anglia and Hertfordshire - and Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in the East Midlands were conspicuous by their absence.

In both cases, authorities had set out to create ‘city regions’ not restricted to councils with shared borders. While they will continue to work together on economic development issues, the inability to get formalised MAAs in place shows the difficulty of moving beyond a conventional ‘cluster’ approach.
Leicester City Council and Leicestershire CC submitted a bid to work with the government on a county-wide MAA, but it was not in the final list.

Rodney Green, Leicester City Council chief, insisted the city and county would push on with their MAA. “We are committed to working together around economic development. [Not being on the final list] should not inhibit authorities from taking their own initiative,” he said.

A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesperson said: “We continue to welcome proposals from other areas and will carry on working with them. The 13 are those with developed proposals that intend to achieve an agreed MAA by June 2008.”

A spokesman for RCE said the councils involved in the project would instead work on MAAs with their immediate neighbours.

The 13 areas are: Tyne & Wear; Tees Valley; Leeds City region; Hull & Humber Ports; South Yorkshire; Greater Manchester; Liverpool City Region; Fylde Coast; Pennines Lancashire; Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country; the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire; Bournemouth, Poole & Dorset and the Bristol City region.

Paul Raynes, the Local Government Association’s regeneration and transport programme director, said: “A lot of eyes will be on these areas to see what their ambitions are and what central government will bring in terms of money raising powers.”

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