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NEW RESEARCH SAYS REGIONS' PROPOSALS FAIL KEY TESTS

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The Local Government Association and the County Councils Network are calling...
The Local Government Association and the County Councils Network are calling

for a rethink on plans to reorganise government in the English regions

following the publication of new research which shows that the current

proposals do not stand up well to the tests set out by the LGA as crucial to

the success of any new arrangements.

The LGA and CCN jointly commissioned the research publication: Devolution

to the regions - what does it mean for local government in England? by

Charlie Jeffrey and Adrian Reilly at the University of Birmingham.

They are particularly critical of proposals that mean the majority of

regions are unlikely to move to a directly elected regional assembly in the

near future, saying that these do not stand up well against the Local

Government Association's tests of 'clout', 'accountability', 'subsidiarity'

and 'transparency'.

David Sparks, leading LGA spokesperson on regional government,

who is chairing a national conference today to launch this report said: 'The

government's proposals so far do not indicate how regional chambers will be

able to hold the multitude of regional quangos to account. There are already

too many national agencies operating at a regional level which are only

accountable to Westminster. We will be using this research to press for an

increase in democratic regional scrutiny and influence over these bodies.'

The research also highlights other issues of concern to local government

about plans for new regional government arrangements, such as:

- Plans to draw powers up from local councils, especially in areas like

planning and housing, which is opposed by the LGA.

- Proposals to force local government re-organisation in areas where elected

regional assemblies are being considered. It says that multiple layers of

local government operate successfully in other European countries.

The LGA and CCN will be using these research findings to support their case

for changes to the proposed Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill.

ODPM press release YOUR REGION - YOUR SAY

Notes

1. The LGA Conference 'Regional Devolution - The Next Steps' is being held

today. Key speakers include Nick Raynsford, minister for local government and the

regions, who is set to announce new details on the proposals for regional

assemblies.

2. The LGA has agreed six key tests of regional democracy. These are

- Any assembly must have sufficient powers and funds to make a real

difference

- Any new structures must increase accountability to local people

- Power should be devolved from Westminster, not sucked up from local

government

- Any new arrangements should be flexible to reflect the uneven demand

across the country for a regional dimension to public policy

- Decisions taken at regional level should be transparent and open to public

scrutiny

- Any changes must build on and respect existing strengths and

collaborations

3. Devolution to the regions - what does it mean for local government in

England? Is published by the LGA and CCN, priced£20, or£10 for local

authorities.

4. The research report also includes a detailed profile of reach of the

English regions with key facts and figures on politics, society and economy.

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