An excellent letter by Jim Tague
Subject: Teesdale Mercury - Letter printed in full
North East Assembly
I do hope I can assist fellow ex-airman, Wg Cmdr Sewell, regarding the North East Assembly (Mercury, 11 October).
Local Conservatives have been gathering evidence with regard to the Assembly.
First big con - the referendum was for an "elected Assembly".
The unelected Assembly, already present at the time of the vote, remains, as the vote never referred to removing the unelected version. This vote was carried out at a cost of over £10 million.
The North East Assembly has an annual budget in excess of £2 million, of which around £1 million is provided by way of annual subscriptions from each of the North East's 25 local authorities, including Teesdale and Durham County Council (DCC). The subscriptions are for the running costs of the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) & North East Assembly (NEA).
The "tidying of accounting methods" (post excellent camapigning by Neil Herron, the Sunderland Metric Martyr) meant that the majority of subscriptions was meant to be for ANEC and only around 15% for the Assembly - the cost to the public remained exactly the same, and ANEC/NEA operate from the same building.
I'm quite sure the public will understand such political arrogance.
Teesdale contributes (annually) around £5,000 towards ANEC/NEA with DCC around £90,000. Councillors that attend, Teesdale has two nominated, are entitled to favourable expenses, which are paid by the local authority (Teesdale, Wear Valley or DCC) and supposedly claimed back from the Assembly (a merry-go-round of public money). In the last few years, Wear Valley Councillors claimed £3,500 in expenses - nice work if you can get it. Wear Valley "Assembly" Councillors also attend EU Committee of the Regions meetings, allegedly first class to Brussels...very nice indeed.
Big con number two, due to the balance of Assembly members, it is all but impossible to dissolve the Assembly.
Even if 75% of local authority members (councillors) voted against the Assembly, you also need 75% of the social, environmental and economic partners to vote against the Assembly. From memory, down south, the conservatives (councillors) managed a respectable 70.7%, but the "partners" only voted by 4.3%.
The Regional idea is driven by Brussels and the EU, and this can be seen when checking the Councillors Members Interests.
One high ranking councillor on the Assembly is a member of the European Movement, Britain in Europe, North East in Europe, Local Government Group for Europe, Campaign for English Regions, Campaign for a North East Assembly, North East Constitutional Convention, North East "YES" Campaign and Alternate Member of the EU Committee of the Regions.
Would it be too much to ask that they equally support local issues with such vigour or dare I say it, some truly British organisations!
The Regional Spatial Strategy, drawn up by the North East Assembly and amended by government, received criticism from both the district council's and Durham County Council. The plan is to promote city regions and sub-regions of regions, our historical county structure will again, like Heath's previous meddling, be thrown to the wolves, our economy concentrated away from rural and semi-rural areas. Bit by bit, the vote will become a past memory, and as with all things related to the EU, a different tack is taken whilst the end goal remains the same, with absolutely nothing to show for it, aside from grand standing local officials pursuing their own careers, all paid for by you and I.
80% voted against the North East Assembly and its plan is criticised by local council leaders - can I ask why those same leaders continue to use our money to fund it?
Alex Watson also replied and stated Teesdale's annual subscription to the "Assembly" is only £469.38 for 06/07, and that the Assembly is value for money and does a great job lobbying national and international organisations - without providing the evidence for such a comment
Thursday, November 02, 2006
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