Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Abolish Regional Quangos

I almost choked when I read the article about the defeat of the North East Assembly proposal in last weeks News by Alex Hamilton. Apart from the cheesy grin leering out of the article from the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, even I, a seasoned councillor familiar with the sanctimonious attitude, false promises and hypocrisy of local LibDems could not believe the Lib Dem PPC was welcoming a defeat that his whole party and especially his leader was falling over, and falling into bed with Labour to support.

Lib Dem Spokesman Don Foster stated clearly “no ifs, no buts, we back regional government” (Lib Dem Party Conference 2000). Obviously the only “but” (or should we say butt?) is the local Lib Dem parliamentary candidate.

The support of LibDems for the Regional Assembly has been a high profile affair, and widely reported. Professor John Tomaney, Chairman of Yes 4 the North East, said: “Charles Kennedy’s backing is significant as it shows that people and politicians in other parts of the country are realising the benefits that an elected regional assembly could bring to the North East.” Prime Minister Tony Blair and LibDem Leader Charles Kennedy felt it so important an issue they joined forces for a photo to try and win support for this white elephant.

Labour and Lib Dems reform of local Government has turned out like the reform of the House of Lords, a mess. The No campaign against a North East Regional Assembly was apposed by Labour and the Lib Dems and supported by the Conservatives who pointed out that another expensive tear of Government would not contribute one extra nurse or policeman and would lead to higher local taxes.

The people of the North East spoke, and the answer was deafening and clear. NO. Politicians now need to listen and take action.

The next action that needs to take place is for the unelected regional assemblies to be abolished. SEERA (South East England Regional Assembly) is a quango based in Guildford given power by Government to draw up 20 year regional plans for transport, housing, employment and environmental issues. Conservatives are demanding that these powers should be with elected local authorities.

However, I realize that an election is in the air, and this proves Lib Dems will do almost anything to get extra votes. Which reminds me, the LibDem parliamentary candidate will no doubt use his position on the Police Authority again soon, as he did last General election, to launch his election campaign by dragging reluctant and embarrassed senior police officers around the constituency claiming he wanted feed back from the public about how the police are performing. Please don’t bother this time…there are enough local councilors who actually live in the area and are more than capable of telling them ourselves thank you.

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