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UNISON CONF: DEVOLVE LOCAL POWER TO ASSEMBLIES

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A new model of regional government should include power devolved to assemblies. ...
A new model of regional government should include power devolved to assemblies.

Government plans for regional government present Unison with opportunities, but there are fears about local government reorganisation, delegates heard.

Conference backed a composite motion calling for a wide-ranging NEC response to the recent white paper on regional government.

Conference decided the model of regional governance should include democratically elected assemblies with a statutory duty to consult all stakeholders, devolution of government powers and the maintenance of effective local government without any deterioration of existing powers.

Wendy Nicholls, Yorkshire and Humberside, moving the motion, said Unison should use the white paper to emphasise the work being done by members across the public services.

But she warned that the white paper did not go far enough and only provided a token structure to scrutinise the regional 'mish mash' of bodies.

'If we do not use this opportunity to speak out, regional assemblies will become another ineffective tier,' she said.

Mervyn Butler, South Tyneside said the white paper was a long-awaited route to devolution for English regions.

'We believe Unison should grasp the opportunity to influence the future structure of government.'

But Jeanette Murray, Suffolk, warned that in a largely rural region like Eastern, reorganisation into unitary local government would not be low cost: 'We do not believe one size fits all, we need sensible dialogue with government.'

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