West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Letter to Ruth Kelly MP

Posted by wonkotsane on October 9, 2006

As promised, we have sent a letter to Ruth Kelly, Minister for Communities and Local Government, regarding the unaccountability of the city region.

Dear Ms Kelly,

On 31st July 2006 you wrote to Councillor Ted Richards asking for information regarding the city region.

In this letter you expressed some concern regarding the accountability of the board to the public. In his response to your letter on 15th September 2006, Dr Simon Murphy, addressed this concern with the following statement:

We are currently developing proposals for scrutiny and accountability of our city region policies and interventions. A number of key principles underlie this work.

First, scrutiny and accountability would respect the provisions and requirements of the Access to Information Act, especially for meetings to be held in public. For example, it would be possible for a city region annual report to be presented to the press and public at “question time” style hearings, and as part of any scrutiny process submitted to the West Midlands Regional Assembly.

Second, the West Midlands Regional Assembly will be responsible for a scrutiny function in respect of our city region policies and interventions, especially where these involve the delivery of existing regional strategies

Third, we will engage in regular consultation with our parliamentarians, with young people (a first consultation has been arranged for 7th October through the good offices of the Young People’s Parliament), regional partners, principally via the West Midlands Regional Assembly, and with other community and business based interest groups. This will be in addition to the enhancement of the work of an existing shadow Partner Board comprised of a range of West Midland local authorities and major organisations with an interest in the city region, which has been meeting regularly for several months.

As was discussed with you at the meeting on 23rd May, and also with your predecessor on 23rd March, current decision making in key areas such as transport and skills is opaque and at times totally removed from any connection with the public or other interests such as the business community. Our city region approach will be visible and transparent, and will provide identifiable and accountable leadership.

Did this address your concerns because it certainly doesn’t address mine, nor has it addressed the concerns of anybody I have shown this to.

The West Midlands Regional Assembly is unelected, undemocratic and unaccountable. The public are unable to scrutinise the work of the Regional Assembly, nor are they able to obtain information from it. They are immune from the Freedom of Information Act and follow an agenda that has never been subject to scrutiny by the public.

This is not public scrutiny and neither is a “question time” style meeting in which they will be able to choose whether or not they answer a question or provide information requested.

The only way to make the city region accountable or democratic is to hold a binding referendum following a period of public consultation and only then, assuming the public endorse the proposal, direct elections should be held for the executive board and the scrutiny board of the city region.

Will your department be instructing the local authorities involved to desist their underhand, undemocratic tactics and seek a mandate from the public before they continue on their regional agenda? If not, please advise why your department is prepared to allow local authorities to impose unaccountable regional government against the wishes of the electorate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: