Revisiting the 'Missing Middle' in English Sub-National Governance

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Abstract

In the light of the new Coalition Government’s proposed ‘rescaling’ of sub-national governance away from the regional level, it is an opportune time to re-consider the strength and weaknesses of the city or sub-regional approach to economic development and to search, once more, for the ‘missing middle’ in English Governance. In this context, the article initially assesses the case for city or sub regions as tiers of economic governance, before examining the lessons to be learnt from the experiences of the existing city regions in the North East of England. It argues that while contemporary plans to develop Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can be usefully considered within the context of the emerging city regional developments under the previous Labour Governments, a number of important challenges remain, particularly in relation to ensuring accountable structures of governance, a range of appropriate functions, adequate funding, and comprehensive coverage across a variety of sub-regional contexts. While the proposals of the new Government create the necessary ‘space’ to develop sub-regional bodies and offer genuine opportunities for both city and county LEPs, the scale of the sub-regional challenge should not be underestimated, particularly given the context of economic recession and major reductions in the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-475
JournalLocal Economy
Volume25
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2010

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