West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Official Launch

Posted by wonkotsane on October 2, 2006

Today sees the official launch of the West Midlands NO! campaign.

We have been contacted by local press and an MP today so hopefully this will give vital publicity to the campaign.

Today is probably the best day to re-iterate what the campaign is about and why the regional government already in place and planned for the future is so bad.

The West Midlands NO! campaign is opposed to the unelected, undemocratic regional government in place in the West Midlands.

Regional government has been with us here in the West Midlands for quite a few years now and despite having wide-ranging powers which should rightly be held be elected representatives, no effort has been made to raise the profile of any of the regional bodies or to engage or involve the public in their work.  About the only regional quango that makes any effort to publicise its existence is Advantage West Midlands (AWM).

AWM is an unelected regional quango responsible for distributing funding in the West Midlands euroregion.  As possibly the only quango that gives away more money than it costs to run it is hardly surprising that it is the only one publicised!

Funding from the EU is distributed on a regional basis via these regional quango’s, as is an increasing amount of UK government funding.  The quango’s responsible for this funding are unelected and unaccountable to taxpayers.

Regional quango’s such as the West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA) make decisions affecting the daily lives of over a million people yet they are unelected and immune from the Freedom of Information Act meaning they are not obliged to provide information to the public.

The West Midlands NO! campaign was prompted by the City Region proposal which is simply a step too far.

There is little or no support for regional government in England and the West Midlands is no exception.  Based on the referendum result for the North East Regional Assembly which had the strongest support for regional government in England, less than a fifth of the people in the West Midlands are in favour of regional government.  We believe this figure would be less if any effort were made by those concerned to find out.

The City Region will comprise most of the urban areas of the West Midlands euroregion and will take over much of the responsibility of WMRA.  Local authorities and elected councillors involved in the City Region will become subservient to an unelected regional government based in Birmingham.  Important decisions will be taken by unelected representatives on the executive of the City Region who have no experience of local or regional government or any knowledge of the region.

Despite being such a major change to local government, no consultations or referenda have been organised to find out if this is what the people of the West Midlands want.  There is nothing stopping local authorities from holding referenda – there is even a precedent as seen in the North East euroregion – but the local authorities, knowing that there is very little chance that they would get a “yes” vote, refuse to engage the public.

We believe that this is wrong.  Important decisions should be made with the consent and approval of the electorate, not behind closed doors. in secret committees.  We demand that a referendum be held in each local authority involved before any more decisions are made or – most importantly – before any more taxpayers money is spent on this project.

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