Local Tory candidate, Gordon Henderson, has attacked Labour plans for a new tier of regional politicians and a regional levy on council tax.
It had been thought that the Government had abandoned its plans for regional assemblies in the face of widespread opposition. However, a government minister has made clear that the assemblies are back on the political agenda.
Mr Henderson said:
‘The new Minister for Regional Government has made it clear that she intends to champion John Prescott’s lost cause of an elected regional assembly for the South East.
“The Government doesn’t seem to have grasped that we need fewer politicians, not more. The way they keep trying to resurrect these unwanted assemblies is a bit like the awakening of the living dead.
“What we need is a Conservative Government to drive a stake through the heart of regional government and kill it off once and for all!”
Mr Henderson’s comments follow news that:-
· Elected regional assemblies are back on Ministers’ agenda: Rosie Winterton is the new Minister for ‘Regional Economic Coordination’. She worked closely with John Prescott on his plans for regional assemblies. In a recent Ministerial keynote speech on regional government, Ms Winterton said she would not let elected regional government “slip off the agenda”, “I have always been in favour of regional government”, it is “the obvious answer” and “we will come back to it”.
· Labour ignore ‘no’ vote to regional government: Elected regional assemblies had been killed off when the public overwhelmingly rejected regional government in the 2004 North East referendum. Yet the unelected regional assemblies still exist, but have merely changed their brass plaques, and are morphing into an even more convoluted structure of unelected Regional Development Agencies and unelected Regional Leaders Forums. New ‘Integrated Regional Strategies’ are to be imposed over the head of (name of local council).
· New regional politicians to be bankrolled by regional council tax: Under Labour’s blueprint, regional assemblies will need a new tier of regional politicians and regional elections. The elected assemblies will be funded by a regional levy on council tax, like the Greater London Authority. The assemblies would be able to “set a higher precept within the region to fund additional spending”. In London, the regional tier of government now costs £310 a year on Band D bills.