The LEPs Dogs' Breakfast needs tidying up, and quickly.
Three key themes have emerged from my Birmingham Post blogs in recent months on the coalition government's rabidly anti-regional stance and somewhat unseemly haste to scrap RDAs.
One is that LEPs are likely to lack real powers given that much of what we current see as regionally delivered industrial policy will head back to Whitehall. Secondly, there will be a huge cut in support for the English regions outside of London; and thirdly LEPs risk being fragmented as local authorities fail to join up with business into functional areas but rather whatever local political deals can be stitched up by town hall bosses.
Surprise, surprise then that business secretary Vince Cable has just said that most of the 56 bids to form local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) received by the government - after the summer scramble to meet the ridiculously tight deadline for submissions - are simply not good enough.
Cable has said that three quarters of the bodies that are proposed to replace regional development agencies (RDAs) would need "a lot of work" and that they are "hopelessly fragmented and will have to get their act together".
Well we did tell you so, Vince. And that's not to bemoan the efforts of local people who have tried to put the LEPs bids together. Rather, the government's decision to scrap RDAs completely and to impose such a tight timetable meant that this was always going to be the likley outcome.
Oh, and to rub salt into the open wound that is rapidly becoming regional development policy outside of London, Cable also suggested that LEPs would be unlikely to receive or manage much of the two-year ÃÂ£1bn regional growth fund that has been announced by the government.
Rather it seems that the regional growth fund is likely to be directed at the private sector and not LEPs, as the Regional Growth Fund panel's deputy chair Sir Ian Wrigglesworth suggested last week. If Wrigglesworth is right, that means that it's unlikely that the Regional 'Growth' Fund will fund infrastructure projects or LEPs.
As Wrigglesworth noted: "The purpose of the fund is to build up the private sector in areas where the public sector is too dominant. It's not our job in my view to be building roads and other infrastructure - that's not our responsibility. We need to be focused much more on building up individual businesses - that's where I think we can make a difference."
This is all rather confusing as at the Lid Dem conference last week Gordon Birtwistle, PPS to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, said that that funding for the new partnerships would actually come from the ÃÂ£1 Regional 'Growth' Fund.
Policy on regional economic development now seems to be in such a state of confusion that members of the same government don't seem to know what the policy line is (all a bit too much like an episode of 'The Thick of it').
Wrigglesworth meanwhile said he wanted the Regional Growth Fund to support "modern and future industries" rather than propping up "the past and recreate old industries that are not going to survive and provide the private sector employment that is needed".
That's absolutely fine - and something that I think our RDA Advantage West Midlands has anyway been doing pretty well.
But focusing Regional Growth Fund money on targeting new industries leaves a big question on what - if any - funds the LEPs will have. All the more reason, I'd suggest, to free them up to raise their own funds through schemes like Accelerated Development Zones.
And there may still be a need for a regional role, as I've suggested all along - otherwise how will the Regional growth Fund cash be distributed in a vaguely sensible way?
As Wrigglesworth rightly noted in an interview last week, "all the Northern regions have said they want a regional body, an overarching body to support the LEPs, and I think the government has got to look at that. We will need people in the regions to vet the applications that are being made [into the Regional Growth Fund] and have a dialogue with the people making them at the moment."
So why scrap RDAs lock, stock and barrel when it makes sense to have some sort of regional join-up role (a coordinating role suggested by the likes of Business Voice West Midlands) such as in vetting growth fund bids?
Sadly, Wriggleworth's economic rhetoric was less appealing. He reckons "this problem [of an over-reliance on public sector jobs] is a supply-side problem, not a demand-side problem... and I hope we can use the growth fund to do something about this."
Actually I think there is a deficiency of demand in some English regions and excessive government cuts could well exacerbate this. So for example I don't think that the public sector is crowding out the private sector in, say, Stoke-on-Trent or Sandwell.
Rather, much of the private sector simply disappeared with deindustrialisation over the last thirty or so years, and cutting the public sector in such places isn't automatically going to reinvigorate the private sector.
The growth fund can still play a positive role here, but let's be clear: the level of funds involved here is peanuts compared to what's really needed to 'rebalance the economy'.
Note: More detail on LEPs is expected in the spending review on 20 October, when the coalition government is expected to release a White Paper on regional economic growth.