West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Archive for the ‘EU/Europe’ Category

Regional Assembly Influence?

Posted by Ken on November 19, 2006

Some figures on those savings we council tax payers are not going to get from the Shropshire Unitary Council emerged after the vote at a special meeting of the Shropshire county council at the Shirehall, unanimously backed the business case for the setting up of a unitary authority. Nice that they asked us first isn’t it.

From the Shropshire Star Councillor Pate claimed a single authority would deliver a low, sustainable council tax level of between 0 per cent and a maximum of 3.5 per cent over the whole of the county – excluding Telford & Wrekin – for the first three years.

“And even in the fourth year, our planning assumption is for no more than four per cent,” he said. “This is the equivalent of giving back to the council taxpayers of Shropshire some £4.6 million each year. The total saving over the first four years will be £34 million at least.”

Councillor Pate said unitary status would allow the county to sit alongside the metropolitan authorities and “not under the table fighting for the crumbs”.

But whilst Councillor Pate is spinning the good news which oddly is not going to be that good, because all these do called savings will not in fact be passed on to the Tax payer,  Labour’s Alan Mosley goes onto the attack against what he described as the “scaremongering and negativity” of some people regarding a new authority.

Where have we seen and heard all this sort of thing before, yes in national politics in relation to our membership of the EU, and would you belive it both Malcolm Pate, and Alan Mosley are Members of  the West Midlands Regional Assembly, Funny that!  

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All about Saving Money

Posted by Ken on November 19, 2006

One of the major reasons stated for the creation of a Unitary Council is that by combining the services they will become more efficient and cost effective, so we can all look forward to reduction in our council taxes can’t we, well no! For some reason these saving are not actually going to mean lower taxes, strange that!

The Shropshire Star reports that the Chief Executive of Bridnorth District Council John Harmetson, is warning Bridnorth residents that they will face yearly increases to catch up with the rest of the country. Apparently Bridnorth at present has the lowest council tax rate in the county but if a unitary authority is formed council tax rates would be made equal across the county within three years. According the Mr Harmeston council tax payers in Oswestry and South Shropshire will have their taxes frozen whilst Bridgnorth residents pay extra. So where are all these savings?

As the reason for the government attempting to create these unitary councils is more to with fitting in with the EU Regionalisation Process it is not surprising that the outcome will not in fact save money or be more efficient, certainly not in the case in Bridgnorth.

As usual we get to same old government /EU spin: Harmetson said: “The White Paper heralds a new era for local government. As always, the devil will be in the detail as it emerges in legislation.

“Much debate will be had about the various proposals but the recurring theme of public services working together to improve services is one issue that should be supported.”

Something “New” got to be exiting! “working together” anyone who objects is obviously going to be a little Ludlovian or Oswestphobe!

Posted in EU/Europe, Quango’s, Shropshire | Leave a Comment »

EU Constitutional Convention

Posted by wonkotsane on November 11, 2006

RegionalAssemblies.co.uk shows us the price we pay for having unelected, ineffective regional government.

The EU is hosting a constitutional convention to decide the future of a European state.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been invited but there will be no English representation because England’s euroregions don’t have law-making powers.

The answer is simple.  Abolish regional government in England and tell the EU that if they must divide the UK into regions then there are 4 of them – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  If they don’t like it then it’s tough, they need us more than we need them.

Via Toque

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Blists Hill gets £10m regional grant: correction

Posted by wonkotsane on November 8, 2006

Yesterday we reported that the EU Regional Development Fund had contributed £6.5m toward the £10m grant given to Blists Hill.

It appears that the figures were incorrect in the press and it was, in fact, £3.5m which represents roughly half a percent of the cost to the West Midlands of being in the EU.

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Blists Hill gets £10m regional grant

Posted by wonkotsane on November 6, 2006

Blists Hill museum, part of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, has been given a £10m grant by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund to secure its future as a viable attraction.

This is good news for Blists Hill and I am personally very glad that the museum will continue to do the excellent work that it does and provide fantastic days out for families, my own included.

However, it is important to put this grant into perspective and to remember that the organisations controlling such vast sums of money are unelected and unaccountable to the public.  There are upwards of 5.3m people living in the West Midlands euroregion and the cost of EU membership is estimated at £873 for every man woman and child in the UK every year.  This means that the West Midlands alone has contributed in the region of £4.6bn to the EU which makes the £6.5m that the EU contributed via the West Midlands Government Office look positively puny in comparison (0.1% of our contribution to be exact).  The other £3.5m was donated by Advantage West Midlands.

So yes, it is fantastic that Blists Hill has been recognised as such a valuable site and been given a large grant but it isn’t new money, it is our taxes being handed over to unelected, unaccountable quango’s for distribution to whoever they decide is worthy.  The public aren’t involved in the decision making process, they are simply required to fund it.

Posted in EU/Europe, Press, Propaganda, Shropshire, Telford | Leave a Comment »

BBC regional government spin

Posted by wonkotsane on November 4, 2006

The BBC have carried out a poll in the North East euroregion on devolution and concluded that there is support for regional government because 69% want local control on issues such as transport.  The people questioned said they didn’t like unelected regional assemblies and only 20% of people think they do a worthwhile job.

The results of the survey do not indicate support for regional government.  The results say that the people of the North East want more control of local affairs.  The BBC doesn’t suggest that perhaps the desire to have more local control over transport is down to the fact that an MP elected in Scotland has control of England’s transport, something the people in the North East are particularly aware of and increasingly vocal about.

The answer to unaccountable central government is not regionalisation.  Regional government is not accountable, nor is it popular.  The British government is highly centralised as far as England is concerned but what people do not want is centralised regional government.  The euroregions, city regions and the new transnational regions aren’t local, they’re regional.  The West Midlands euroregion is a perfect example of how a single regional policy can’t be suitable for the whole region – it contains one of the largest urban sprawls in England at one extreme and the most rural county in England at the other.

It is clear that there is no real support for regional government in the North East or elsewhere in England which only leaves the question of why the BBC would choose to spin this story so outrageously to suggest that there is.  Could it be anything to do with the funding that the European Federation – the architects and chief supporters of the regions – give to the BBC to fund varied programming including news an education?

Posted in EU/Europe, Other Regions, Propaganda | 2 Comments »

Press Release re: EU cash aid of £460m for region

Posted by wonkotsane on October 23, 2006

The following press release has been sent to local and national press today.

The West Midlands euroregion has been allocated £460m from a total EU grant of £6.4bn to the UK to improve skills and employment.

The cost of EU membership is estimated to be £873 for every man woman and child per year. There are 5.27m people living in the West Midlands euroregion. This puts a financial cost of EU membership for the West Midlands euroregion alone at £4.6bn. How generous of the EU to give us back some of our own money! The grant represents only 10% of the money that has been handed over to the EU from the West Midlands and is £73m short of an equal share of the money were the total amount to be divided equally amongst the 12 “regions” of the UK – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the 9 English euroregions.

Businesses and organisations wishing to bid for a share of this money – an average of just £87 per person living in the euroregion – will have to make their bids to the unelected, unaccountable regional quangos that distribute EU funding in England. These quango’s such as the West Midlands Regional Assembly, Advantage West Midlands and the West Midlands Regional Development Agency all operate in virtual secrecy, immune from the Freedom of Information Act and unaccountable to any voter. Their decisions will be made in secret by the unelected quangocrats who control hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money in the West Midlands from their taxpayer-funded bases in Birmingham.

It is simply wrong for unelected, unaccountable and secretive regional quango’s to make these decisions. This money should be allocated through elected representitives at a local level, not through the unaccountable regional quango’s. Taxpayers have paid for this grant and it is only right that people elected by those same taxpayers should be the ones who decide how to spend it.

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Trans-national regional assemblies

Posted by wonkotsane on October 22, 2006

It is common knowledge that the current English regions were drawn up by the EU.  The reasons are many and varied but there are two main ones:

  1. Member states are easier to control from Brussels if they are divided up into smaller regions
  2. National identities are a barrier to a federal Europe so they are being replaced with regional identities

The EU has updated its regional agenda with “trans-national regions” – euroregions that cross national boundaries.  How this will impact on the existing regional assemblies and associated quango’s is a mystery but the Arc Manche Assembly, incorporating parts of the South-East of England and France, has already been formed using taxpayers money.

The new assembly is, of course, unelected and has a French chairman.  The Conservatives have condemned the transnational regions but the Tory-controlled West Sussex County Council is taking part in it and even hosted its conference less than a week ago.

Posted in EU/Europe, Other Regions | 3 Comments »

Who pays for this?

Posted by wonkotsane on October 21, 2006

So who pays for West Midlands in Europe to take part in this European regional quango?  The partner organisations of this unelected regional quango are Advantage West Midlands, West Midlands Regional Development Agency and West Midlands Local Government Association – all taxpayer-funded, unelected regional quangos.

ERRIN re-launches with high hopes and expectations

[Date: 2006-10-20]

The European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) announced its official re-launch for 2007 and beyond at its seminar ‘Towards Regional Innovation: the Role of European Regions’ on 19 October 2006 in Brussels.

ERRIN is a Brussels-based network designed to help representations involved in research and innovation to engage with the evolving European Research Area (ERA).

By improving coordination and communication between regional representations in Brussels, ERRIN strengthens cooperation and synergies between regions across Europe and reinforces the research and innovation agenda in line with the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.

According to Pascal Goergen, Representative of the Brussels-Capital region and Member of the ERRIN Management Board, ‘ERRIN is a network created by regions for regions. This is a network based in Brussels which screens, informs and analyses all that is related to the research and innovation European agenda from the regional perspective. Dealing with the Seventh Framework Programme from a national or federal point of view is totally different from looking at it from a regional perspective, or even a local perspective. So ERRIN’s objective is to bring added value to our regional authorities, firms, SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises], development agencies, universities and research institutes.’

ERRIN has gone from strength to strength. From an informal Brussels-based platform set up in 2002 with 190 regional representations interested in the ERA, it won a contract for a two-year Commission-funded pilot-project within the ‘Regions of Knowledge’ framework in 2003.

Four years since its inception, and with its Commission funding coming to an end in 2006, ERRIN has gone through a period of re-thinking and soul searching.

It came to the conclusion that it had to take the bold evolutionary step of becoming an autonomous and sustainable network based on the financial and dynamic contribution of its members if it was to continue its work supporting Europe’s regions and regional actors.

ERRIN has already managed to get 12 regional representations on board: West Midlands in Europe, City & Region of Eindhoven, Brussels Capital Region, Helsinki Region, South Denmark, South Sweden, Stuttgart, Unioncamere Lombardia, Unioncamere Piemonte, Valencia Region, Veneto Region, and Yorkshire & Humber Region, and it is confident that more members will sign up based on ERRIN’s 2007 policy and project objectives.

These include:
– contributing its views on the European Commission’s 10 point action plan for a broad based innovation strategy for the EU;
– presenting its views on the rules of participation for the Seventh Framework Programme to the European Commission;
– contributing to the 2007 Spring Council with a regional perspective on Innovation and contributing to achieving the goals of the Lisbon Strategy;
– informing members of upcoming developments in relevant policy areas, and, through small scale dedicated working groups, aim to achieve rapid responses to policy initiatives and European Commission consultative processes via a policy alerts system;
– organising briefing sessions on topical policy issues;
– coordinating policy activities with a view to ensuring the quality of the Network’s output;
– supporting members through activities that facilitate the development of European cooperation projects;
– Developing an ‘ERRIN Project Vademecum’.

The question on everyone’s mind is, will more members give ERRIN a chance to meet these targets?

Actually, the question on my mind is who pays for this, who asked for it and who do they answer to?

Posted in EU/Europe, Quango’s | Leave a Comment »