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CALL FOR POWERFUL ELECTED ASSEMBLIES FOR THE ENGLISH REGIONS

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A delegation, organised by the Campaign for the English Regions (CFER) met with regions minister Nick Raynsford yes...
A delegation, organised by the Campaign for the English Regions (CFER) met with regions minister Nick Raynsford yesterday. The delegation represented the active English regional government campaigns and constitutional conventions. They spelt out what must be seen in the government's forthcoming white paper on regional governance if elected regional assemblies are to be a success.

CFER presented their proposals as set out in the document 'Democratic Regions' (see below). They will argue that that while there can and should be differences in the structure of each assembly to take into account the differences between regions, each assembly must have an irreducible core of powers. These core powers will enable the delivery of effective and coherent government. They are:

- Economic development, including, the current work of the RDAs, regional economic strategies, inward investment and EU Structural Funds

- Rural affairs and environment, including sustainable development strategy and rural development

- Further education and training, including institutes of further education, learning and skills councils

- Transport

- Planning and housing, including regional planning guidance, spatial development strategy, housing strategy

- Culture, including the arts, tourism and sport

- Public health and public safety

CFER also argued that the government should make a commitment to fully devolve block grant funding for these areas of regional governance to the new regional assemblies.

Commenting on the CFER proposals Joyce Quin MP, who chairs the parliamentary Labour Party regional government group said: 'These proposals constitute a thoughtful and detailed submission which I hope will be carefully read in the departments involved in drafting the white paper. Some of the proposals made are radical, and for that reason possibly controversial, but they are all worthy of examination. The submission rightly however concentrates for the most part on a number of core issues on which a large degree of consensus could be reached.'

* Click hereif you would like a copy of 'Democratic Regions'.

* See LGCnetfor 'COUNCILS MUST BE WINNERS AS WELL IN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT REFORM'

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