Monday, November 21, 2005

North West Regional Assembly 'like a private club'

In the North East the Assembly is petrified of raising its head now on any issue. The legality of these bodies is coming under closer scrutiny. I am sure that once the penny starts to drop for members of these 'private clubs' that they are 'jointly and severally liable' for the club's contracts (such as employment and pension rights) then the gravy train 'troughers' will think twice about being members.

NWRA 'like a private club'
Christoper Booker's Notebook
Sunday Telegraph 20 November 05

Article 13 of the North-West Regional Assembly's constitution is unequivocal. Subscriptions from the local authorities which provide most of its funding are due on April 1 each year. If any council has not paid up by September 30, its "membership shall cease forthwith".

Two Warrington readers, Gerald Kelley, a retired businessman, and Richard Buttrey, an accountant, noted that on September 30 this year not a single council had paid. In law, none was any longer a member. Under council rules they would have to reapply for membership, requiring endorsement by the full council. Until that happened the NWRA could no longer function.

In the twilight zone of regional government, however, what are rules? At Friday's meeting of the assembly, following representations from Mr Kelley, Mr Buttrey and myself, the assembly chairman, Coun John Joyce of Warrington, conceded that the rules had technically been broken. But, since all councils but three had now paid up, "we can take a pragmatic view". After all, he explained, the NWRA is "akin to a private club".

So the rest of us must obey the law, but apparently this does not apply to Mr Prescott's "private clubs".

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