Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tory wants Assembly out

By David Jackman,Citizen

SHADOW Chancellor Oliver Letwin has spoken of the Conservative Party's wish to abolish the controversial regional assemblies, including the East of England body which is behind plans for thousands of new homes in the Bishop's Stortford area.

The unelected East of England Regional Assembly receives over £500,000 a year in subscriptions from local authorities, including over £12,000 a year from East Herts District Council.

The assembly, which has made key decisions about thousands of homes being built in the east of England in the next 16 years, including some 11,000 in the Epping Forest district, has a £2m annual budget, yet meets fully only about twice a year.

None of its 106 members, covering Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, is directly elected.

Two-thirds are from local authorities with the remainder community stakeholders' from the world of business and other organisations including the Rail Passengers Committee, NHS Confederation and National Housing Federation.

Mr Letwin having announced the party's plan to abolish the eight regional assemblies in the country as part of its spending plan said their work could easily be done by other local authorities.

Mr Letwin said: "Nowhere in Britain is there a better example of wasteful and unnecessary bureaucracy than the so-called unelected, unnecessary regional assemblies.

"There is nothing that these bodies do that couldn't better be done by somebody else, and getting rid of them will be a benefit all round.

"There's a cost (of having them), a talking shop, and no useful result."

He added: "We're determined to focus spending on people's priorities and to get better for value for taxpayers money by cutting back on the rest of Government so that we can eliminate wasteful and unnecessary bureaucracy and cut taxes."

The East of England Regional Assembly drew up the regional plan which earmarks thousands of homes for east Herts and neighbouring Harlow.

Mr Letwin said abolishing the assemblies would save some £18m, with decision-making on key issues taken by people with closer links to the areas under discussion.

"We think decisions on matters like planning and transport are much better taken at a local level and where there is a need for co-ordination between councils it is perfectly possible for them to arrange to talk to one another.

"We simply don't believe there is any basis for creating another layer of government in Britain."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Times today and the Yorkshire Post yesterday have lambasted Prescott. Even the Lib/DEMS are going to chuck them. What does it take for them to get the message?.

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