Quangos are an endangered species. They have been' at risk' for quite some time. With a name like that perhaps it's not surprising - even though 'quango' sounds a bit better than 'quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation'!
But it's only a year since John Norman was praising the work of a quango which has been a great help to Ipswich - and now it's been killed off. EEDA (East of England Development Agency) has invested some £45m of public money in Ipswich. This includes a number of smallish contributions to some schemes, but more importantly large investments in UCS, IpCity Centre and the purchase of the huge Cranfield's site from Allied Mills so that a private developer could take over and concentrate on the actual development work. The fact that the developer has become a victim of the recession is not EEDA's fault. Without EEDA's role Cranfield's whole range of buildings would be rotting away with no home still for Dance East. And these old industrial sites will still be used in due course eventually for the benefit of the local economy. Any smaller local organisation likely to replace EEDA wouldn't have the resources to make such major purchases or grants.
It's fair to say that not all of EEDA's initiatives have come good but they have in general fulfilled their purpose of using public money where private money on that scale was very unlikely to be forthcoming. EEDA also had the reserves to take the risk on capital projects where property developers and certainly local authorities could not have done. In that way they have levered in private investment and development. EEDA has claimed that the £45m invested in Ipswich has encouraged a further £225m of private money and so promoted employment and economic growth.
I deduce from this that there are probably good, bad and indifferent quangos. They should be treated accordingly and not condemned as a species. I feel sure the name doesn't help. It has been loaded with examples of poor practice to produce an automatic sneer. Isn't the same true of 'political correctness' and perhaps 'health and safety'? And, being even-handed politically, haven't we been prevented from thinking and evaluating their pros and cons by the sneers implied in 'death tax' and 'poll tax'?