on whether they want a referendum in their region about establishing
an elected regional assembly, local government minister Nick
Raynsford announced today. This comes in the light of amendments to
in two-tier local authority areas a say about the form of unitary
local government that would be introduced if an elected assembly is
An initial soundings exercise to test the level of interest in each
English region (outside London) in holding a referendum received more
than 5,400 responses. Respondents to the soundings exercise will now
be contacted again, in case their views, information and evidence
change in the light of the amendments to the Bill. Additionally, any
individual or organisation who now wishes to put forward their views
on this matter can do so.
Original responses to the soundings exercise will still be considered
as before, unless we are told that someone's views have changed.
Details on how people can express their views are outlined below.
Responses are requested by 16 May 2003, since the secretary of state
is likely to take his decision shortly after that.
1. A pro forma for responses is available electronically from
www.odpm.gov.uk and responses can be e-mailed to
Alternatively, copies of the pro forma are available from:
PO Box 236
Tel: 0870 1207 405
Fax: 0870 1226 237
Completed forms should be sent to:
Regional Policy Unit
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
London SW1E 5DU
2. Mr Raynsford made this announcement in a written statement to
parliament (attached below)
3. Parliament agreed amendments to the Regional Assemblies
(Preparations) Bill at Lords Report Stage on 7 and 8 April. Under the
new provisions, the Boundary Committee would be asked to present at
least two options for unitary local government in each county council
area. There would be a separate referendum in two-tier areas asking
voters to indicate their preferred option for a unitary structure,
should an elected regional assembly be established. Unitary
government would still only be introduced if the region voted in
favour of establishing an elected assembly. To see Mr Raynsford's
statement on this, refer to LGCnet.
4. Decisions on which region(s) should be subject to a review of
local government will be taken shortly after the Regional Assemblies
(Preparations) Bill receives Royal Assent. This should allow the
first referendum(s) to be held during the lifetime of this
5. Copies of the original soundings exercise document can be found
Supplementary Regional Soundings Exercise
Statement by Nick Raynsford, 8 April 2003
Following changes made to the Regional Assemblies (Preparations)
Bill, I am writing today to all Members in the English regions
outside London to follow up my earlier letter about the soundings
exercise on the level of interest in holding a referendum about
establishing an elected regional assembly. Voters in two-tier local
authority areas will now have a say about the form of unitary local
government relating to their area that would be introduced if an
elected assembly is established.
Those who have already responded to this exercise are also being
contacted again. In both cases, we are making it clear that we will
consider further evidence or comments if people's views have changed
in light of the amendments. We do not expect this to cause many
people to change their minds about their response to the soundings
exercise, but if people h ave changed their minds we would be happy to
receive further views, information and evidence on this matter. If
their response remains the same, they do not need to take any action
- their original response will be considered as before. Additionally,
any individual or organisation who did not previously submit
comments, but now wishes to put forward views, information or
evidence on the level of interest in a referendum can do so.
Copies of the revised pro forma have been deposited in the Libraries
of both Houses. They are also available from the ODPM website.
Responses to this additional phase of the soundings exercise are
requested by 16 May, since the Secretary of State is likely to take
his decision shortly after that.