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COUNTY COUNCIL 'SHOULD NOT BE ABOLISHED' - HAMPSHIRE VOTERS SUPPORT REGIONAL POWER BUT NOT REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES'

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With the government announcing plans for devolved regional government yesterday, one county council in England has ...
With the government announcing plans for devolved regional government yesterday, one county council in England has won the backing of voters who do not want to see it abolished.

Regional assemblies would have control of economic development, transport, waste management and planning. There would be eight regional assemblies in all, potentially replacing dozens of county councils. However, whilst almost half (45%) of voters in Hampshire support giving greater powers of government to regions in England, they do not generally wish to do so at the expense of their county council.

More than half (58%) of people in the Hampshire CC area believe a regional assembly would look after the interests of their area better than central government. However, this drops to less than a quarter (24%) who believe an assembly would look after their interests better than Hampshire CC, and just one in five (21%) would support moves to abolish the council in favour of an elected regional assembly.

More than two thirds (67%) are fairly or very satisfied with the way Hampshire CC runs their area, and just over half (54%) believe a regional assembly would lead to more bureaucracy.

Ben Page, director of the MORI Social Research Institute, said: 'These figures are not dissimilar to data we collected from a national survey three years ago. Before the government announcement today, only one if five (21%) claim to know much about proposals for regional assemblies. More support than oppose the principal of giving powers to regional assemblies but not at the expense of their current local authorities.'

Hampshire CC leader Ken Thornber said: 'The initial research seems to show that on the whole, there is little understanding of what regional government might mean to people in Hampshire and the South East. It shows that while the public would be keen to see powers coming down from the government to the regions, this must not be at the expense of their county councils.

'I would strongly agree with the Local Government Association's viewthat any changes must involve bringing down powers from central government to bring decision making closer to the people, not drawing up powers from local government divorcing decision making from the local community.'

* MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1.040 adults aged 16+ who live in the Hampshire CC area. Interviews were conducted by telephone on April 29th - May 3rd 2002.

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