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Friday, August 11, 2006
The end of the Northern Way
Now the seaman from Hull is no longer at the helm at DCLG, it looks like the 'flagship' Northern Way programme is going to follow him into an unofficial retirement. Director of Implementation Vince Taylor has let on that he is working on the potential dismantlement of the programme after the end of this period of funding, in 2008. He also said that the Northern Way will not be receiveing any further funding after the spending review.

Basically it looks like the northern RDA's will take the initiative in-house, i.e. killing it off but trying to retain some of its priorities about cross-regional working.

The whole thing was launched just under two years ago as a "groundbreaking vision for economic renaissance" with £100m of funding. Hey ho, what has it achieved? From the annual report published this month:

"The Northern Way has made significant progress since its inception. Highlights include:
• Establishing the Northern Transport Compact to provide a unified voice on pan-northern transport priorities.
• Marketing the North as one to distant customers who have limited knowledge of the different northern regions, with successful campaigns for overseas investors in Australia and North America.
• Helping to fund centres of excellence benefiting the entire North in leadership, innovation and the skills for sustainable communities.
• The Department for Work and Pensions established nine Pathways to Work pilots in the North in response to the priority we accorded to worklessness in our strategy.
• The Department for Transport backed four of our ‘early win’ transport investments in a shortlist of 12 across England.

"However, significant challenges remain. During 2006/7 financial year we will:
• Produce a submission for the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review that contains compelling, evidence-based proposals for resources and policies that are tailored to the North’s requirements.
• Deliver the outcomes specified in our Business Plan through the successful deployment of the Growth Fund.
• Complete our strategic stocktake, developing the key priorities for The Northern Way beyond the three-year
Business Plan.
• Engage the strong support of all our stakeholders in our mission."

It's rather sad, really - and very symptomatic of the short-termism endemic in government funding. We all know that it takes many years and sometimes decades to produce results - yet a programme like this (however flawed some might say that it was from the start) gets axed before it's barely begun, and it does feel like a waste of that £100m.

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