Jan 7th 2005
Ross Smith, The Journal
Two top posts could be axed in a shake-up of regional government in the North-East planned in the wake of the massive `no' vote in the elected assembly referendum.
Proposals are being put to the Association of North-East Councils, which represents the region's 25 local authorities, to separate it from the existing unelected regional assembly.
A confidential report seen by The Journal claims ANEC was sidelined by the assembly in the run-up to the regional referendum and the organisation should have a stronger role, lobbying for the region's interests.
The report calls for a re-structuring of the two organisations, which will involve making two of their most senior staff redundant.
It recommends deleting the posts of the bodies' director, Stephen Barber, 55, and the head of the North-East of England Office in Brussels, Stephen Howell, 57.
An evaluation by Regional Employers Organisation boss Mick Brodie says the two redundancies will cost up to £350,662. Mr Barber currently earns £81,248, while Mr Howell is paid £48,282.
A new director would be appointed for each organisation, and their joint policy staff would be separated.
The new-look ANEC could make formal links with the Local Government Association, the national lobbying organisation for councils, to beef up its lobbying weight.
Members - many of whom are leaders of councils in the North-East - could also be given cabinet roles on ANEC to focus on specific policy areas for the region.
But one senior local government figure said: "We're being presented with this as a fait accompli, but I'm not sure how happy people will be. There's a role for us to work together, but I don't know if we have a mandate to beef up the organisation."
Anti-assembly campaigner Neil Herron said the abolition of the regional assembly would be the logical next step, saying: "We can't complain about the Association of North-East Councils working together, but this proves the people have created the pressure to remove this regional body." And North Tyneside Mayor Linda Arkley insisted the assembly should be scrapped completely.
She said: "ANEC has always been the vehicle by which councils have dealt with cross-cutting issues.
"But the public gave a resounding `no' to an assembly, so why are we still going on about it?"
The plans have been put forward after a review by a consultant, Paul Wilding, into how the structures should change after the referendum. They are due to be implemented in June, if agreed by the organisations.
The report says: "There is general recognition that the director has played a significant part in moving both organisations forward and that the establishment of the assembly has been a major achievement.
"There is also, however, a recognition that the creation of two new organisations heralds a new era, and this signals the need for new leadership."
A spokesman for both bodies said: "The recommendations flowing from this review will be pertinent to how both organisations move forward to ensure that there is greater distinction between the assembly and association in terms of their role, remit and functions."
ANEC and the assembly would continue to share administrative staff, but the changes would increase annual costs by £18,000.
The groups, which currently share 32 staff, are funded by a combination of government grants and local authority subscriptions.
Friday, January 07, 2005
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- Hannan in the Telegraph
- Penny drops for Linford...we were right all along!...
- The net is closing Mr. Barber
- 'No Vote shake-up could cost key jobs
- "Ball's in your Court"
- Prescott's assemblies 'disappointing'
- Further assembly blow for Prescott
- Regional Assembly Plans 'Need Powers Boost'
- Prescott's regional plans in ruins
- Weasel words and phrases.
- The Majority isn’t always right –Something for ref...
- Regions plan finds few to support it
- HOW TAXPAYERS' MONEY WAS SPENT
- Even on Prescott's Home Turf...Money Wasted
- ▼ January (14)