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WHITE PAPER IS 'GOOD FOR REGIONAL COMMUNITIES AND GOOD FOR DEMOCRACY'

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The Local Government Information Unit welcomes the regional White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, launched yesterd...
The Local Government Information Unit welcomes the regional White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, launched yesterday.

Ines Newman, LGIU head of policy, says:

'We have campaigned on the need for democratic regions for many years. Only regional government can ultimately address concerns of fundamental importance to people's lives, such as the north-south divide, the imbalance in housing need and costs, issues of sustainability, tackling congestion and quality of life.

'We have already seen the increasing policy divergences that have developed around the Scottish parliament, the national assembly for Wales, the Greater London Authority and the Northern Ireland assembly, as confidence around the ability to meet different needs has grown in the new democratic bodies. Now communities in England, outside London, will get their chance to directly choose new representatives who will bring regional democratic control over the burgeoning quango state that exists at the regional level. This white paper is good for regional communities and good for democracy.'

Keith Pudney, executive member at Redcar and Cleveland Council and vice chair of the LGIU, comments:

'We warmly welcome the proposals to enable regional assemblies go ahead. The North East has been campaigning for this opportunity for many years, and it is great that the government has now taken up the case. Elected regional assemblies will breathe new life into local democracy and give local people real power to decide what happens in their areas.'

Mike Storey, leader of Liverpool City Council, says:

'In Liverpool we work very closely with our colleagues across the North West - and want regional authorities to have genuine strategic powers to take these partnerships further forward. They must deliver a new kind of government to local people, putting communities, and not Whitehall, in charge. Accountability has been a big issue in local government for many years, with regional functions often devolved to quangos and other un-elected bodies. I hope the white paper will enable local people to get the biggest say in what happens in their region, so that communities are served by democracy.'

Phil Davis, chair of the West Midlands Regional Assembly, says:

'This white paper is an opportunity to devolve substantial decision-making powers from Westminster to the regions. The West Midlands is likely to be one of the first areas to adopt the new regional powers. Regional government will enable decision-making for the first time to directly address regional priorities - which has to be an excellent thing for the country as a whole.'

Nic Dakin, leader, North Lincolnshire Council, says:

'The white paper gives us a real opportunity to debate where decisions about some of the long-term, strategic issues affecting our communities are made - on planning and economic development, for example. This is important, as a national focus doesn't always provide us with enough flexibility to respond to local needs.In particular, the government's proposals will allow people in the region, along with their elected representatives, the opportunity to look at where power and resources are best located - either in Westminster or within their own region.'

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