West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Birmingham Post

Posted by bigfred on December 4, 2006

From the Birmingham Post today:

West Midlands MEP Philip Bradbourn is adamant that one thing we don’t need is city regions.

The proposed Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region is giving me a sense of deja vu.

I seem to recall a very similar plan to implement a “strategic overview body” ending disastrously in 1986, after just 12 years in existence. This, for anyone fortunate enough not to remember it, was the West Midlands County Council. I do not wish to see a repeat of this unpleasant chapter of local government in the West Midlands.

From talking to my constituents, I have come to the firm conclusion that most local people do not want this added layer of government, especially as they will ultimately have to foot the bill. If the current system is not working then the problem needs to be addressed directly, not added too.

Even the name, ‘The Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region’ strikes me as ill-thought out and ridiculous.

If the aim of the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region is to re-brand the West Midlands as a national and global competitor for business and enterprise, we have failed at the starting block. How can people be expected to have faith in this idea if the people behind it cannot even get the name right?

One area of city regions of which many people are not aware is the change it could bring to how we operate within the EU. Essentially, city regions are another means of sneaking in the doomed EU Constitution by the back door. The EU Constitution proposed plans to bypass central Government and deal with member states through their regions, outlining a “Europe of the Regions”. Decisions would be made without the parliamentary scrutiny of Westminster when, for example, funds are distributed, opening the door to a further diminution of the nation state.

If the plan for the proposed city region in the West Midlands goes ahead, we will become one step closer to the break up of the United Kingdom into bite-sized chunks’. What, instead, is surely needed is for local government to be given back the powers and influence taken away from it by regional quangos and to focus on its core activity – that of providing services for people.

But the greatest worry with this proposal is what it does not reveal. It does not reveal the growing army of bureaucrats which recruited to staff the existing regional agencies…and for what purpose? n Philip Bradbourn is Conservative spokesman on local government in the European Parliament.

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