Examination of Witness

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:56 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Dr Ellis:

Simply, there will not be any. The duty to co-operate was a problematic measure—a stop-gap measure—inserted after the abolition of regional planning. You would expect me to say this, and it may not be popular, but regional planning in this country was critically important to our future. I understand and have to accept that there was insufficient public support for it. Again, it simply did not have the right kind of governance, but it was important.

Put simply, for the reasons you have heard, which I will not repeat, it is absolutely essential that we have bigger-than-local decision making. That enables communities to make decisions; it does not trump them. If you want to preserve the east coast from a sea level rise of 1.5 metres by the beginning of the next century, which is predicted by the Environment Agency, you cannot expect 33 district councils between the Humber and the Thames to do that on their own, so it is very important that we get that right.

Removing the duty to co-operate and replacing it with a policy imperative just makes a situation even worse. Devolution could help, but of course, that is an ad hoc process; we do not yet know who wants to do devolution. I am sat in Derbyshire, and I have no idea whether Derbyshire wants to be a combined authority or not. It is vital that we have that strategic tier.