Regenerating South Yorkshire: How
the Public Sector Dominates
Business Partnerships in Britain
Jim A. Chandler
The Conservative government that won the 1979 General Election was suffused with a new right belief that the state was too involved in the economy and welfare provision and needed to be “rolled back” to liberate the growth potential of unfettered private capital. During earlier years, the Conservative governments believed that economic development could be achieved by removing local and national controls on business development. Typical policies of this time included the establishment of enterprise zones and urban development corporations (UDCs)—composed predominantly of business interests—that were given substantial government funding and responsibility for economic development in areas of serious decline.
These attempts at urban regeneration, largely premised on the view that local government should be removed from the process of urban development, had rather patchy fortunes (Parkinson and Evans 1990). By the late 1980s, following the development of many local public schemes for economic growth, the government somewhat reluctantly acknowledged that local authorities had a role in facilitating economic development but at the same time curtailed strategies allowing them to unilaterally regulate the private sector or create and run their own commercial ventures. From this point, the government turned to the idea of public-private partnerships as a favored method of securing local economic regeneration. Although local government was seen as a significant element in potential partnerships, the government also created local business-led organizations such as the Training and Enterprise Councils