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Local authorities - bad economics?



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Empire-building Scottish local authorities in 2008 finally won their years of lobbying for control economic development to be handed to them – with the transfer of local regeneration and the Business Gateway to Scotland's 32 councils in 2008.

For some of us that have witnessed that other great carve-up by local authorities, known as Community Planning, it’s no great surprise to find that their takeover of economic development is hardly an inspiring success.

Institute of Directors Scotland chairman Raymond O'Hare has now described Business Gateway as "awful" and the provision by come councils as "shocking".

The Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) is equally scathing in its submission to the Scottish parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee (EETC) review of enterprise, reporting negative feedback from its members to the reform.

"The rationalisation has been extremely disruptive to the delivery of local economic development and in some cases no local enterprise dimension was evident at all specifically in the identification of issues, priorities and strategy… few local businesses receive support or understand what support is available. A similar story applies to Scottish Enterprise (dealing with bigger business) with an increasing tendency to support only those who are 'account managed'."

But it’s not all negative! The local authorities’ own body COSLA thinks, surprise, surprise, that all is well and fine. "Levels of satisfaction with Business Gateway have increased quite noticeably over the last two years," says the leader of COSLA's environment and regeneration team Anil Gupta.