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RDAs LAUNCHED THIS WEEK

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Richard Caborn, the regions minister, will celebrate the birth of the English regional development agencies on Thur...
Richard Caborn, the regions minister, will celebrate the birth of the English regional development agencies on Thursday by formally opening the West Midlands RDA offices in Birmingham, reports The Financial Times (p8).

Governmment guidance, to be issued on Wednesday, will give the eight RDAs six months to analyse their regional economies and develop robust strategies, identifying initial priorities and objectives for five to 10 years.

In the West Midlands, like several other parts of England, there is a nascent campaign for an elected assembly. But most organisations in the region are devoting immediate attention to strengthening existing partnerships.

Colin Beardwood, a member of Worcestershire CC, chairs the West Midlands regional chamber alongside vice-chairs from the business and voluntary sectors. 'We do not want the chamber to become a new layer of government, but a new approach to policy development,' he says.

'There has been a growing consensus over recent years that the West Midlands must uite around shared economic priorities. The RDA and the chamber provide a structure for us to act together to develop and promote these priorities.'

Mr Caborn will be delighted to hear such down-to-earth sentiments when he is in Birmingham this week, says the paper. Setting up the RDAs, he says, is not a 'theoretical, academic exercise. They fit into our bigger picture of trying to get more efficient government and better running of the economy'.

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