David Ruffley MP: Local People's Say Silenced by Regional Officials

Friday, 30 April, 2004

Bury St Edmunds MP, David Ruffley this week launched an attack on the growing transfer of powers from local councils- such as from St Edmundsbury- to regional tiers of government- like the Government Office for the East of England and the Regional Chamber. He warned that powers over housing, planning, transport and fire were being shifted to a regional level, silencing the say of local communities and local councillors.

In the autumn, three regions (North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humber) will hold referendums on whether to establish elected regional assemblies. Yet 'stealth' regionalisation across England is already seizing powers from local authorities, transferring power to a regional level, irrespective of any referendum decision.

David Ruffley explained:

'Below the public's radar, power is being taken away from local people. Labour, supported by the Liberal Democrats, are pushing for a new tier of distant regional politicians and pen-pushers to control local services. These 'government regions' are just arbitrary, Whitehall-determined lines on a map. They lack common purpose, culture and identity.

The transfer of power to bureaucrats in Cambridge at the regional Government Office is happening by stealth. Responsibilities for housing, planning, transport and fire services are being seized from local councils and given to unelected regional politicians. I suspect, like with the European Constitution, this arrogant government will disregard any referendum decisions this autumn and accelerate the process of regionalisation in England whatever happens.'