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YOUR REGION - YOUR SAY - ADDITIONAL PHASE OF SOUNDINGS EXERCISE ANNOUNCED

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People and organisations are being given more time to have their say ...
People and organisations are being given more time to have their say

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

the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill, which will give voters

in two-tier local authority areas a say about the form of unitary

local government that would be introduced if an elected assembly is

established.

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.

NOTES

1. A pro forma for responses is available electronically from

www.odpm.gov.uk and responses can be e-mailed to

referenduminterest@odpm.gov.uk.

Alternatively, copies of the pro forma are available from:

PO Box 236

Wetherby

West Yorkshire

LS23 7NB

Tel: 0870 1207 405

Fax: 0870 1226 237

Completed forms should be sent to:

Regional Policy Unit

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Zone 1/A6

Eland House

Bressenden Place

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

Parliament.

5. Copies of the original soundings exercise document can be found

at:

http://www.local-regions.odpm.gov.uk/consult/

regional-assembly/index.htm

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.

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