Building Institutions in a Vacuum: Devolution and England's South East, 2002

The South East region has long been seen as peripheral to the process of devolution in England. Claims that the region lacks a clear identity of its own, that it is in fact a series of economic sub-regions and that London, although governed separately, is the cultural and economic core of the South East, are easy to make and to substantiate. This research project moved beyond these preliminary analyses of the 'problem region' of English Devolution. It focused on the process through which the region is constructed as a network of institutions. It considered the emergent relationship between the three institutions of regional government, the Regional Development Association (RDA), the Government Office and the Regional Assembly, to be critical in the formation and operation of the region. This triad of regional institutions has had an immediate and significant impact on local and county government in the South East. However, the effectiveness of their promotion of the South East's interests on the inter-regional and national scale is more questionable. The research found that institutions of regional government in all parts of England are concerned primarily with physical regeneration and economic development initiatives. However, the policy imperatives for South East England are to address the problems of economic success such as transport congestion, labour shortages and a lack of affordable housing. As such, the regional government of the UK's core economic area is failing to address the fundamental requirements of the regional economy. Institutional links between the South East region and London remain under-developed and as such inter-regional policy on important common issues such as housing and transport are fragmented. There is much scope for London government to develop common strategies with their counterparts in the South East and the East of England, although as yet they have achieved relatively little in this respect. This qualitative data collection comprises six transcriptions from interviews with key informants from county councils and regional government organisations in South East England.

Creator(s) Tickell, A., University of Bristol. School of Geographical Sciences
Funder Economic and Social Research Council
Publisher UK Data Service
DOI 10.5255/UKDA-SN-5037-1
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