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Regional Assemblies in England

From Academic Kids


This article is part of the series
Politics of the United Kingdom

Regional Assembly is a title which has universally been adopted by the English bodies established as regional chambers under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. Their original defined role was to channel regional opinions to the business-led Regional Development Agencies. They now carry out a wide range of advocacy and consultancy roles with national government bodies and the European Union.

About two-thirds of Assembly members are appointees from the County and District councils and Unitary authorities in each Region, the remaining one-third are representatives of other regional interest groups.

Plans for Elected Assemblies

In May 2002 the Government published a White Paper "Your Region, Your Choice" [1] (http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_regions/documents/page/odpm_regions_607900.hcsp) outlining its plans for the possible establishment of Elected Regional Assemblies. These Assemblies were to be responsible for regional strategies dealing with sustainable development, economic development, spatial planning, transport, waste, housing, culture (including tourism) and biodiversity. They would be funded primarily by central government grant, with powers to raise additional funds from a precept on the council tax.

The Assemblies were expected to be elected by an Additional Member System similar to those used for the London Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

The Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 made provisions for referendums to be held to create such assemblies, and to simplify the structure of Local Government where this is done. Three such referendums were planned, for the regions of North East and North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber.

On February 12, 2004, Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford announced that elected Assemblies would be able to direct local authorities to refuse strategic planning applications that are not in the region's best interest. They would be able to look across local boundary constraints and ensure planning decisions are made with region-wide interests taken into account. [2] (http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2004_0031)

On July 8, 2004 it was announced that the referendums would be held on November 4 (see Northern England referendums, 2004) but on July 22 Nick Raynsford announced that only the North East England vote will go ahead on that date.

On November 4 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 696,519 votes to 197,310. This result was seen as a block to elected regional assemblies elsewhere in England outside London. On November 8, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the House of Commons he would not move orders for the other two regions within the effective time limit of June, 2005 permitted by the Act.

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