RTPI Cymru responded to the Welsh Government's proposed regulations to establish Corporate Joint Committees, to support the roll out of strategic development planning, regional transport planning and economic well-being of areas. The response can be viewed here.
What are your views on CJCs being subject to broadly the same powers and duties as principal councils?
Do you agree that CJCs should have broadly the same governance and administrative framework as a principal council provided that this is proportionate? Please give your reasons.
Do you agree that members of CJCs should have appropriate discretion on the detail of constitutional and operational arrangements? Please give your reasons.
Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs) should be bound by the same regulations and standards as other public bodies. This will add to their legitimacy, as a public body of similar standing to principal councils and demonstrates the status that they will have as decision-making bodies.
While we broadly agree with the geography and functions proposed, we note that Local Authorities all have different population sizes; perspectives and different geographies, socio-economic characteristics etc. We therefore think it is important to discuss and be clear on how parties might work positively to resolve any issues that may arise. There should be clear governance arrangements in place as it is always preferred to move forward on the basis of consensus.
A good example to reflect on is the Glasgow City Region where good arrangements have been put in place to the benefit of the whole Region.
CJCs must be sufficiently resourced alongside individual constituent Local Authorities. If CJCs are to deliver on a strategic scale and be successful in transforming regions, they must have adequate capacity and funding. This must be recognised in budgets at all tiers and Welsh Government must recognise this when seeking to contribute and fund the set up costs of CJCs. CJCs should not be funded at the expense of Local Authorities if they are to add real value.
CJCs and Local Authorities must be given adequate time to achieve their regional goals, especially in the context of Covid-19, Brexit etc. There must be a recognition that doing things at a regional level, such as preparing a Strategic Development Plan (SDP) will take time to reach consensus etc. Although having strong governance arrangements in place will assist in reducing the time take to take decisions.
CJC areas have been agreed by local government Leaders as the most appropriate to reflect the functions being given to CJCs by these Establishment Regulations. Do you have any comments or observations on these CJC areas in relation to these functions or the future development of CJCs?
We note that the regional boundaries align with those recommended in the report ‘Identification of Regional Areas for the National Development Framework’. The report identified that these regions outlined balance, sub-regional variation with wider regional patterns, equity considerations, and institutional factors. (Page 33, figure 23 - https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-08/identification-of-regional-areas-for-the-national-development-framework-final-report.pdf).
Regional partnerships will take time to establish themselves. Establishing early partnerships and collaboration will help them form cohesive regions over time.
What are your views on the role proposed for National Park Authorities on CJCs?
National Park Authorities should have a role to play in the CJCs where SDPs are concerned.
Is it clear what functions the CJCs will exercise as a result of these establishment regulations?
The economic well-being function requires further detail. Will City and Growth Deals evolve into the CJC structure? This would have logic and provide a coherent decision making structure and also assist in bonding the Region. Without their incorporation into the CJC structure there is a risk that conflicting strategies may be pursued.
Further clarification would be useful in understanding why the economy is given precedent, given the spirit of well-being legislation which suggests all aspects of well-being should be treated equally. For example, regional tiers of governance provide a useful opportunity to think about ecological functions of areas and therefore greater than local environmental responsibilities may be an appropriate function to add to the CJCs in the future.