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'COUNCILS MUST BE WINNERS AS WELL IN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT REFORM'

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Liberal Democrats at the Local Government Association have welcomed proposals for the creation of elected regional ...
Liberal Democrats at the Local Government Association have welcomed proposals for the creation of elected regional governments in England publishedby the Campaign for the English Regions.

In 'Democratic Regions', CFER call for a range of powers so that the English regions will have accountable bodies able to tackle economic, transport, planning and other problems head on.

But Liberal Democrats at the LGA want to go further by ensuring local government gains from devolution as well.

Speaking about the CFER proposals, Keith House, Liberal Democrat group spokesperson, said: 'The CFER have come up with a set of proposals which, when implemented, will give the English regions strong bodies to set priorities for their areas and to sort out problems.

'Government appointed quangos currently spend billions of pounds of taxpayers' money but those affected by quango decisions have no control over them. We want to ensure accountability to the people of a region is brought to organisations such as regional development agencies, learning and skills councils and tourist boards.

'But devolution must be about pulling powers down from the centre, not up from local government. Central government has far too much power and decisions are better when taken closer to the people.

'That is why devolution is good. But local government must also be a winner in the devolution process. Decision making that is currently carried out by un-elected bodies at regional or sub-regional level, which can be done better at a local level, should be handed over to local councils.'

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