have been called into question by Bedfordshire CC leader Philip Hendry.
Plans to give English regions new assemblies, unveiled yesterday,
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
'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.'