Newcastle (2)

In visiting Newcastle after a long interval, I am necessarily thinking about the ways in which it has changed over the last twenty years.

Twenty years ago, there was a strategy in place for what is now called levelling up through a policy of cultural regeneration via the resources of Northern Arts and the Heritage Lottery Fund. I think in retrospect it was pretty successful, particularly in Gateshead with the Angel of the North, Baltic, the Sage and the Millennium Bridge. The quayside was opened up, making Newcastle somewhere which now attracts tourists.

Then came austerity, with massive reductions in public funding and a feeling, doubtless legitimate, that wealth and resources were too concentrated in London. Hence, the policies of the Northern Powerhouse followed by the promises of levelling up. But whereas I understood the policies of cultural regeneration, I’m not sure that I fully grasp the strategy of levelling up other than as an immensely successful election winning strategy: was it just a set of false promises ?

Nor do I have any sense of what the opposition plans to do or how it expects to win support.

Others may be able to tell me.


2 thoughts on “Newcastle (2)

  1. mauricedavies says:

    In the old days, local government had money and could come up locally with sensible strategies for spending and investing at a sensible pace. Now, central government has taken away vast amounts of money from local government and runs competitions for them to win some of it back through so-called levelling up. Local government has to employ staff to write bids, many of which are unsuccessful, so all that effort and staff time is wasted. And in its distant wisdom, central government imposes all sorts of irrelevant criteria and often imposes ludicrously tight deadlines on spending the money, so much of it is wasted (some of it on consultants like me who get commissioned to deliver projects that were designed to take 9 months in just 2 months, to meet arbitrary dates for spending all the money, with the inevitable results). The waste and inefficiency is quite remarkable from a government that in some vague way preaches business efficiency.

    • Dear Maurice, Yes, this sounds entirely plausible. Wasn’t the idea of the Northern Powerhouse and having mayors intended to give more local autonomy.

      I presume local autonomy is worthless if the money still comes from central government with stupid strings attached.

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