Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I HAVE tabled a motion, to be debated at 10am today at County Hall, Durham, that Durham County Council withdraws its subscription of £84,800 from the North-East Assembly. This is an unelected Government quango which, if allowed, is going to restrict the growth and prosperity of County Durham through its Regional Spatial Strategy.

If all councils cease to fund it, it clearly cannot function.

As 78 per cent of the voters in this county voted against a regional assembly, I would encourage members of the public to make sure their local county councillor supports my motion.
- County Councillor John Shuttleworth, Durham

THE unelected North-East Assembly should be scrapped. Now that an overwhelming popular vote has proved the widespread unpopularity of even democratically representative "regional governance", there can be no excuse for raising our council tax to fund the unrepresentative kind.

"Consultation", with carefully selected pressure groups and "stakeholders", is no substitute for direct representation by councillors who actually live within walking distance of your house, when controversial matters are involved.

Why on earth, for instance, should the imposed assembly be in charge of something called "regional spatial planning"?

The North-East is not an empty space. Its towns, villages and counties are inhabited by a couple of million individuals, all with their own particular needs and preferences. To treat these individuals' homes and neighbourhoods as if they were "spaces" ripe for development along the lines preferred by a handful of superior beings who feel they are all-seeing enough to dictate the future is an insult to the families and communities whose lives will be affected.

We must take back powers from central government, and increase local accountability. Planning over wider areas should not be the job of a permanent "regional" body, elected or unelected, but of delegations from local councils given temporary power to deal with each specific project.

Let's hope our councils have the sense to honour the wishes of those who elected them and withdraw all support, financial and otherwise, from the unwanted quango.
- Gillian Swanson, Whitley Bay.

COUNCILLOR Shuttleworth's motion (Echo, Jan 27) and Judith Wallace's letter (HAS, Jan 27) focus on the continuing existence of the unelected regional assembly almost three months after the electorate in the North-East massively rejected the proposal in the referendum for elected regional government.

This existing unelected assembly of place-men has been given a key role by Government in the planning process that includes responsibility for the preparation of a spatial strategy for the guidance of developers, covering developments such as housing projects and wind farms.

Decisions on these major projects have been taken out of the hands of our local authorities. This is undemocratic and should be of major concern to all in the North-East.

With an early General Election likely, Darlington voters, who voted by four to one that they do not want anything to do with regional government, might legitimately ask their MP, Alan Milburn, who has been given a key role in drafting the Labour Party's manifesto, what his party's intentions are to meet his constituents' demands. -
A Speirs, Democracy Movement NE, Northumberland.


Anonymous said...

Durham County Council voted to maintain the grant to the Assembly. Obviously, Durham CC has a hefty Labour majority. Nosurprise it was defeated then.

Anonymous said...

...and the Leader of Durham County Council is a prominent member of the Assembly. Jobs (and money) for the boys!

Mr Nepotism

Anonymous said...

Labour is rotten to the core. To see how rotten check out a website ( exposes local politics in Sunderland. Incidentally, Neil Herron's home time. Read and be amazed.

Anonymous said...

is the labour party so skint they need a penny a click
son? go away.

Anonymous said...

The correct website address for that site exposing Labour corruption in Sunderland is

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