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'YOUR REGION - YOUR CHOICE' - A NEW ERA FOR ENGLAND

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A new era for England was heralded today with the publication of the ...
A new era for England was heralded today with the publication of the

white paper on regional governance, 'Your Region - Your Choice:

Revitalising the English Regions'. At the heart of this radical look

at regional policy is the proposal to establish directly elected

assemblies in the English regions for the first time ever.

The white paper will strengthen regional policy across the country

and provide regions with the opportunity to decide whether they wish

to have elected regional assemblies.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott said:

'The creation of regional assemblies will signal the re-birth of

political life across England. Our vision of regional governance is

an opportunity for change and giving people the choice to make that

change.

'This will be the conclusion of a political dream I have held for

decades. Giving the regions their own democratic voice and the chance

to improve their economic performance, delivering jobs, prosperity

and better public services.

'This white paper builds on the success of devolution to Scotland,

Wales and Northern Ireland. It is right that we offer the people of

England the benefits and opportunities that devolution has brought

elsewhere in the UK. We have worked hard to decentralise power and

decision-making and this is the next step in that process.'

The white paper proposes to:

- strengthen the building blocks for economic growth in all regions

- improve co-ordination of policy in the regions

- ensure that regional variations in priorities are recognised

For regions that want to go further there is the choice of

establishing elected regional assemblies that will:

- bring decision making closer to the people

- improving effectiveness and efficiency by offering tailored

solutions that meet the particular needs of their region

- have specific responsibility for economic development,

regeneration, spatial development, housing, transport, skills and

culture

Alongside the deputy prime minister, the secretary of state for

transport, local government and the regions, Stephen Byers added his

support to the opportunities the White Paper will bring to the

regions.

Mr Byers said:

'For the first time this White Paper fully acknowledges the

importance and strength of the English regions. It celebrates their

potential to transform our national life.

'Our success as a nation depends on every region achieving its

potential. The English regions were once the powerhouses of our

economy and our proposals offer them the opportunity of building on

their strengths. This White Paper is, therefore, relevant to all

regions and not just those where people choose to vote for regional

assemblies.

'After decades of neglect, we are placing the regions at the heart of

our policies to create a more prosperous and inclusive society. This

means giving the regions the powers they need to succeed.'

Mr Byers also emphasised that much had already been done for the

regions.

He added:

'We have already done a lot to devolve decision-making to the regions

by, for example, setting up the regional development agencies and

giving them more funding and responsibility. Our White Paper takes

this agenda forward by devolving more powers to all regions and

giving them a greater say in policy making. It gives regions the

opportunity to choose an elected assembly with real powers to make a

difference on issues like jobs, housing, planning and transport.'

Notes

1. The DTLR will take forward the implementation of the white paper.

2. The white paper is available here

3. Copies are available from The Stationary Office. Order Line:

08457 023474, Email: book.orders@tso.co.uk and internet:

www.tso.co.uk

4. The free summary is available from DTLR Free Literature.

Telephone: 0870 1226 236, Email: dtlr@twoten.press.net

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