Welcoming the report on strategy development and partnership working in the RDAs, local government and regions ninister Hilary Armstrong said: 'This report shows that since we established the RDAs in 1999, they have brought different organisations and groups together to successfully work towards the common goal - to improve the economic, social and physical prosperity of every English region.
'Businesses, training colleges and voluntary groups are among the people working with the RDAs and regional chambers to identify the priorities for improvement in their region. Working together they are clearly making a difference.'
The report - which highlights good practice and makes recommendations for further improvement - sets out that:
* the regional strategies - to drive forward economic development and regeneration in the regions - were successfully developed with the involvement of an extremely large number and wide range of partner organisations;
* the involvement of these stakeholder groups has been a major catalyst for their increased contribution in identifying priorities at the regional level; and
* close and positive joint-working relationships have been established with the regional chambers.
With regard to the RDAs partnership on various policy areas, emerging conclusions highlighted in the report include:
* Rural development - in most regions the RDAs have successfully built on the previous work of the rural development commission and have developed a clearer sense of priority for rural issues;
* Inward investment and business support - while successful partnership working has been developed with sub-regional partners, it will now be vital to build strong links with the new small business service to take this agenda forward; and
* Social inclusion - to help deliver on their commitment to a coherent regional approach to social inclusion, the report recommends that the RDAs need to develop specific mechanisms for addressing this cross cutting issue in their work and own
Ms Armstrong continued: 'The challenge for the RDAs will now be to build on these successes. The RDAs, their partners and government can learn valuable lessons from this report to help us to work even more effectively together in the future.'
1. regional development agencies (RDAs) were formally launched in eight English regions on 1 April 1999. The ninth, in London, was established on 3 July 2000 following the establishment of the Greater London Authority (GLA). They aim to co-ordinate regional economic development and regeneration, enable the English regions to improve their relative competitiveness and reduce the imbalances that exists within and between regions.
2. The research was carried out by Arup Economics and Planning with Aston University Business School. The study had four principal objectives:
* an assessment for each RDA region of the network of potential partnerships and other interests relevant to the statutory objectives of the RDA;
* an assessment of the process engaged in by each RDA in preparing its regional strategy and associated action plan with its potential regional, sub-regional and local-level partners and the Government Office for the Regions, Government agencies and relevant national advisory bodies and other interests;
* an assessment of each of the RDAs' regional strategies in terms of the extent to which each has identified the opportunities for partnership working in pursuit of its objectives; and
* identifying best practice and transferable lessons for the RDAs in working with regional, sub-regional and district-level partners and other relevant agencies.
3. The principal of partnership is integral to the purpose , role and remit of the RDAs, and in particular in ensuring all relevant local and regional interests contribute effectively
4. Copies of the report (Price£17; ISBN 1 85112 469) can be obtained from: DETR Publication Sales Centre, Unit 8, Goldthorpe Road Industrial Estate, Goldthorpe, Rotherham, S63 9BL
5. The summary can be viewed on the DETR website at www.regeneration.detr.gov.uk/rs/index.htm.