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TORY CONFERENCE: PLEDGE TO SCRAP REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES

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Abolition of regional assemblies and the Standards Board along with the transfer of power from Whitehall to local a...
Abolition of regional assemblies and the Standards Board along with the transfer of power from Whitehall to local authorities was outlined by the Tories today.

Shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman backed Social Enterprise schemes in her speech to the Conservative annual confererence in Bournemouth today.

'Commercial enterprise has been the bedrock of our economy - and social enterprises can become the bedrock of our communities.

'Social enterprises are some of the best drivers of social change and we all know how much that change is needed.'

Ms Spelman highlighted the need to deliver physical and social regeneration to communities, and proposed rolling up the existing fragmented resources available into a single 'Cohesion Fund'.

Conservatives pledge to scrap regional assemblies

Conservatives have promised to abolish regional assemblies in England, and devolve more powers to local communities.

Ms Spelman won cheers and applause when she made the pledge.

Insisting that local councillors are best placed to effect change in towns and village, she protested that under Labour's 'straitjacket', decision-making was being taken further away from local communities under the guise of regionalism.

'In so many ways councillors should be best placed to effect local change but they can't under Labour's straightjacket. Decision making is being taken further away from the people under the guise of regionalism. It's a by-pass down which government steam-rollers its will regardless of local opinion,' she said.

Although policy was still being formulated, she declared: 'A good place to start is abolishing the unelected regional assemblies, and when we have done that we'll abolish the Standards Board which puts people off serving their local communities and has proved a vehicle for so many malicious claims,' Mrs Spelman added.

She told the conference: 'We need to transfer powers, responsibilities and budgets away from Whitehall to the town hall and from the town hall to local communities. We are serious about giving back power to local people.'

Mrs Spelman said local regeneration schemes were being hampered by having 50 different funding streams and promised to 'roll-up' this fragmented system into a single cohesion fund.

Read the speech in full

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