Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Zoe Hughes reports double clanger in Journal

Party Lines
edited by Zoe Hughes
Newcastle Journal
Wednesday 09 November 05

A slightly embarrassing blunder at Sunderland Council has come to light.
Campaigner Neil Herron has been trawling through documents as part of his investigation into parking policy in the city. And this request from a Department of Transport official in 2002 has been uncovered.
The official wrote: "Sunderland is a metropolitan district, but I note that you use the term 'City of Sunderland' to refer to the administrative area. I assume Sunderland was granted this status by royal charter. If you could let me have the dates and, if possible, a photocopy of the front sheet of the charter, that would be helpful."
The reply from Sunderland though was illuminating: "Further to our telephone conversation, our legal department cannot find the document that confirms our city status. However, the following wording is on a plaque outside of the council chamber..."
Oh dear. Still, it presumably means they will be perfectly understanding if it transpires you "cannot find" that council tax demand.

One year on and things haven't changed that much - after anti-assembly campaigners again called for the North-East's unelected version to be scrapped.
North-East Says No chairman John Elliott used the first anniversary of the regional assembly defeat last week to demand an end to the democratic deficit in the region, while metric martyr Neil Herron even served notice on the assembly to quit their Quayside premises.
As campaigners from both sides were left to reflect on what happens next, there was one overriding response from all involved - my God, has it been a year already?
"Where has 2005 gone?" was a typical response to The Journal's question of where the region goes now.
Several ideas though have now been thrown into the melting pot with Mr Herron suggesting MPs set up their own regional forum in Parliament, meeting once every three months or once a year. "It won't cost any money and I'll suggest Kevan Jones as the chair (after he called for the assembly to be abolished)."
It was left to Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin to give the most realistic answer of the day when he said: "We're not going anywhere as far as I can see."

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