North East referendum delivers fatal blow to regional agenda
Government plans for an elected regional assembly in the South East of England should be abolished, and the existing unelected assembly should be scrapped, Boris Johnson MP today said. This follows the people of the North East voting ‘no’ in the referendum for a regional assembly by a margin of almost 500,000; 78 per cent voted ‘no’, while only 22 per cent voted ‘yes’.
The present regional chamber for the South East of England is not directly elected but made up of officials, councillors, ‘community stakeholders’, and numerous committees. It covers an amorphous area from Oxford to Portsmouth to Canterbury and is based in Guildford.
Boris Johnson MP explained,
“People want action to deliver cleaner hospitals, lower taxes, school discipline, more police and greater accountability. The North East referendum result shows people think that a regional assembly means just one thing – more talk and higher taxes.
“This vote shows that people do not want an expensive extra layer of regional government. Regional assemblies take powers from existing local councils and local people, such as over housing, planning and local transport. They are less democratic and more remote. The existing, unelected regional assembly is an expensive talking shop which should be shut down, and the money saved should be spent on frontline services.
“The next Conservative Government will scrap the existing regional chambers, abolish regional planning, and implement real decentralisation, restoring power to people away from Whitehall and its regional quangos. We will give more control to local people who really know what is best for themselves, their families and their local communities.”