A partnership of partnerships of partnerships of….

When I started investigating the story in the Adver about a failed bid for Highworth to get some regeneration funds from the South West Regional Development Agency, I soon found myself going round in circles. A quick look at the Highworth Community Partnership Group’s website revealed that it’s not really a partnership at all. The steering group seem to be self-appointed. There doesn’t even seem to be a representative from Highworth Town Council, though it is closely linked (the council takes care of the partnership’s finances).

Highworth Community Partnership Group is supported by Wiltshire Market Towns Partnership, which seems to be indistinguishable from the Wiltshire Forum of Community Area Partnerships. The latter is funded by the European Union Social Fund, the South West Regional Development Agency, Wiltshire County Council and what was the Market and Coastal Towns Association of which it is also a member. The Market and Coastal Towns Association is now the South West Market and Coastal Towns Network, which was created by the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative which is — if you believe the spin and have not yet got totally lost in the tangle of bureaucracy —

a community-led initiative which helps local people to prepare and implement a plan for the future of their town and surrounding area’.

Allowing the community to lead themselves apparently requires the financial support of not only the South West Regional Development Agency, but also the Government Office for the South West, the South West Regional Assembly, the Countryside Agency (now Natural England), English Heritage, the Housing Corporation (replaced by the Homes and Communities Agency), the South West Network of Rural Community Councils (itself funded by the South West Regional Development Agency and the Government Office for the South West) and Lottery Funds South West.

So, at the end of all that, a group funded by the South West Regional Development Agency via numerous intermediaries has been unsuccessful in obtaining funds from… the South West Regional Development Agency… and have strangled themselves with red tape in the process.