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PLANS FOR EASTERN REGION ASSEMBLY BRANDED 'EXPENSIVE AND REMOTE'

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Government proposals to introduce a regional assembly for the Eastern region ...
Government proposals to introduce a regional assembly for the Eastern region

have been called into question by Bedfordshire CC leader Philip Hendry.

Plans to give English regions new assemblies, unveiled yesterday,

involve holding a referendum on whether or not to establish an elected

assembly, if the relevant secretary of state is convinced there is a

groundswell of opinion in favour of the move. Any new assembly in the east

of England would include Bedfordshire and the decision would impact on all

tiers of local government.

Cllr Hendry said: 'Regional government will cost a lot of money with no real

consideration of its value or no real prospect of making any significant

difference to people's lives.

'We have a proud tradition of local democracy in this country, and as much

as I like Norwich, Chelmsford and Ipswich, I don't feel that elected

representatives from those areas should be making important decisions about

planning, economic development, housing or any service for people in

Bedfordshire.

'We have already seen the drift of power away from local decision-making in

many local government services, and I feel we need to maintain local control

and keep services democratically accountable to people in our county. We are

not convinced that regional assemblies will do anything to increase public

interest in democracy.

'I would rather see more resource and more focus on service development and

improvements - with the money earmarked for regionalisation diverted to

social services and education. This whole debate on regionalisation is an

unnecessary and potentially expensive diversion. I hope people in the

Eastern Region will reject the concept.'

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