The answer, apparently, is quite a lot. A quick trawl through the web came up with the list below.
- Swindon Local Area Agreement (Swindon Borough Council, the Government Office for the South West, Swindon Strategic Partnership and other quangos)
- Swindon Strategic Partnership (Swindon Borough Council, parish councils and voluntary groups, with observers from the South West Regional Development Agency and the Government Office for the South West)
- Swindon Strategic Economic Partnership (Swindon Borough Council, the South West Regional Development Agency, the New Swindon Company, Swindon Learning Partnership, other quangos and local companies.)
- New Swindon Company (urban regeneration company owned by Swindon Borough Council, the South West Regional Development Agency and English Partnerships)
- Great Western Community Forest (an unincorporated association of Swindon Borough Council, other local councils and the Forestry Commission)
- inSwindon (town centre management company, set-up by Swindon Borough Council with town-centre companies on the board)
- Swindon Learning Partnership (seemingly not a partnership at all, just an office of Swindon Borough Council but with over 120 ‘members’)
Now, I’m sure some of these do worthwhile work but, looking at that list, it does seem rather incestuous, with partnerships forming further partnerships, all with the added cost of yet another bureaucracy. A bit of digging on these organisations’ websites reveals that they are all a consequence of one or other central government ‘initiative’, wherein getting hold of some extra money for Swindon from central government (or stopping central government taking money away) is dependent on setting up a new quango.
If national government thinks that a way to improve local participation in democracy is to add multiple layers of bureaucracy, then its understanding of democracy is clearly very wrong indeed.