West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Archive for July, 2006

Regionalism in the West Midlands

Posted by wonkotsane on July 30, 2006

Regionalism is particularly rife in the West Midlands, second only perhaps to London which has its own elected regional government.  The following is a list of regional quango’s, government departments and officially recognised regional organisations.  The list is far from exhaustive but is a good indication of the extent to which the euroregions have infected England.  Remember, these organisations all cost money and it the taxpayer that foots the bill.  Nobody in the West Midlands has been asked if they want these organisations but we still have to pay for them.

  • West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA) – website
  • Advantage West Midlands (AWM) – website
  • West Midlands Fire service – website
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service – website
  • NHS West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Regiment (Army) – website
  • Government Office for the West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Local Government Association – website
  • Regional Action West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Business Council – website
  • Culture West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Higher Education Association – website
  • West Midlands Learning & Skills Councils – website
  • Sustainability West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Rural Affairs Forum – website
  • West Midlands Regional Observatory – website
  • West Midlands in Europe – website
  • RegenWM – website
  • Sport England West Midlands – website
  • DEFRA West Midlands – website
  • Environment Agency West Midlands – website
  • Training & Development Agency West Midlands – website
  • West Midlands Centre of Excellence – website
  • West Midlands Probation Service – website
  • West Midlands Arson Task Force – website
  • West Midlands Freight Quality Partnership – website
  • Inspire West Midlands – website
  • Government News Network West Midlands – website
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Regional Health Authority pokes its nose in

Posted by wonkotsane on July 27, 2006

Shrewsbury & Telford NHS have worked out a plan on how to cut costs and cope with their debts.

Meanwhile, the British government creates a West Midlands Strategic Health Authority with no public consultation and suddenly the board of the Strategic Health Authority – based in Birmingham and only having responsibility for Telford & Shrewsbury for a matter of weeks – knows best and decides that they can’t go ahead with their plans until it’s been considered by Birmingham.

More and more of the decisions affecting our lives are being taken at a regional level.  Nobody wants the euro-regions and nobody asked for them.

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Brownites snub city regions

Posted by wonkotsane on July 25, 2006

Source: Campaign for an English Parliament 

Brownites snub city regions

IC Birmingham reports that Brown’s lieutenants will today snub Government plans for city regions. The New Local Government Network report, authored by Ed Balls, John Healey and Chris Leslie, is very sceptical about the prospect of city regions:

“In our view, the success of the elected London mayor cannot be easily replicated within the English regions or imposed on city regions.”

“We do need new powers for local government in economic development – including for the London mayor – and greater encouragement for cities like Manchester or Birmingham to under-stand their wider regional responsibilities. But we must make sure this does not happen at the expense of the rest of the North-west or exclude towns and cities across the West Midlands.”

Via Daily Pundit.

Previously reported, in Sheffield Today, Ed Balls and John Healy had called for ministerial regional champions to be appointed and for parliamentary time to be allocated for regional issues:

A MINISTERIAL champion for each of the English regions, including Yorkshire and the Humber, should be created, two senior ministers have said.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth in Rotherham, and Ed Balls, MP for Normanton, have called for the move in a document setting out their vision on how to boost areas outside London.
They suggest a monthly question time in Parliament for each region where MPs could grill ministers about specific issues and specially set up committees which would scrutinise policies in more detail.

If regional government was the settled will of the English people I could see how this would make sense, why not have regional lists in Westminster and time allocated for regional issues? However, every indication is that the people of England do not want regional government, so why bother compounding an already grievous constitutional mistake?

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Cameron: Regions are ‘very bad idea’

Posted by wonkotsane on July 23, 2006

Source: Leeds Today 

Ambitious Government plans to create city regions run by powerful mayor-style leaders has been slammed by the Tory leader as an attempt to revive rejected elected regional assemblies.

David Cameron accused ministers of offering the same thing in a different guise and called the move an attack on local government.

 

If counties want to collaborate, I can see a case,” he said. “But the idea of big regions and a new bunch of politicians is a very bad idea.

 

“It’s a case of déjà vu all over again.

“We saw this in the 90s when our government ran out of steam and we said ‘let’s have a review of local government’ and we got a giant raspberry back. We are getting it all over again.”

Ham

 

He added: “Sometimes the temptation in politics when you offer people ham and egg and they say no, well you come back and say have a double ham and egg.

“And that’s what happened with regions. They were rejected in the part of the country where they were meant to be most popular, the north east.

“The Government, having been rebuffed, is now trying the double ham and egg option, with another attack on local government.”

The Government’s plans for regional assemblies were dropped after voters in the north east rejected them.
Ministers will unveil a White Paper on the future of local government in the autumn.

They have already said they would be willing to give new powers to city regions which have a strong and visible leader.

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What’s it all about?

Posted by wonkotsane on July 20, 2006

Regional government and regional quangos are a cancer in England.

Originally conceived by the EU as a way of dividing not only England but the rest of Europe into easily controlled chunks, regional government has been adopted by the British government for the very same reasons.

 Rather than improve public services and democracy to the public as these regional quangos claim, they have pitted euroregion against euroregion in a battle for UK government funding and taken powers and responsibilites away from democratically elected representatives and given them to unelected regional yes-men.

The UK government prefers not to refer to the unelected regional assemblies, preferring instead to call them “indirectly elected” – a reference to the fact that some of the quangocrats are elected to local councils.  However, nobody is elected to a regional assembly or any of the associated quangos.

John Prescott, when he still had a real job in the UK government, was in charge of the euroregions and he hit on the idea of having elected regional assemblies in the 9 euroregions.  To this end, he announced a series of referenda in England starting with the North East euroregion which had the highest level of support for regional government.  The North East region, largely thanks to veteran campaigner Neil Herron, gave Labour the biggest referendum defeat any UK government has had in history with 78% of people rejected regional assemblies.  Following this defeat, the other 8 referenda were cancelled but – importantly – the regional structure remained in place and has been significantly extended and strengthened.

Labour have been forced to concede that the electorate do not want elected regional assemblies but, as they are obliged to implement regional government in England to satisfy the EU, they have had another cunning plan – City Regions.

In other European countries which, unlike England, have a national government, City Regions have been successful in growing their local economies.  The UK government have decided that what we need in England is City Regions.  The EU, Scottish and Welsh MP’s, European Federalists and quangocrats are all happy and the people will also be happy once they’ve been fed enough propoganda.  There is one important difference in the UK though – City Regions in England will be directly competing not only with each other but with the national governments in Scotland, Wales and (by the end of this year) Northern Ireland.  City Regions elsewhere in Europe and beyond do not have this same handicap and this is one major reason why City Regions will not work – a region cannot compete with a national government with the ability to pass primary legislation.

City Regions, as with the current network of regional government in England, will be paid for by the taxpayer.  However, unlike regional assemblies, the City Regions will be able to levy 5% on business rates.  Will businesses be attracted to a City Region where an unelected regional cabinet can make the arbitrary decision to increase business rates by 5% or to Scotland, for example, where the elected Scottish Executive can cut taxes as well as increase them?

The proposed West Midlands City Region will be centred on Birmingham and focussed on the metropolitan part of the West Midlands stretching from Birmingham to Wolverhampton leaving Telford and Coventry as little more than subservient satellites.  In fact, Telford is specifically mentioned in the proposals as a “stop tap” for developments in the City Region.  Developments that can’t be built in the metropolitan area of the West Midlands will instead be built on the green- and brownfield sites surrounding Telford.

If you are wondering why, if this is such a bad idea, councils in the West Midlands are so keen to get involved, you need look no further than the structure of the City Region cabinet.  The Leader and Chief Executive of each participating council will automatically take a place on the cabinet – the Leader on the decision-making part of the cabinet and the Chief Executive on the scrutiny panel.

The West Midlands City Region proposal has yet to be finalised and is kept in complete secrecy.  Freedom of Information Act requests for the proposals are refused by local councils on the basis that they will be published in the near future (when they are sent to the Local Government Minister to be rubber stamped and it is too late to object) and by the West Midlands Regional Assembly because they are immune from the Freedom of Information Act.  The Local Government Minister has already agreed to the West Midlands City Region despite not having seen the proposal!

In summary, regional government in general and city regions in particular, are expensive, undeomocratic, unaccountable and unwanted.  If you are interested in opposing regional government in the West Midlands, contact me.

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