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Control at regional level - some doubts

PUBLISHED: 22:07 15 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:07 03 March 2010

REGIONAL government is a concept that has the backing of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats - although both parties have many members with grave doubts about the concept.

REGIONAL government is a concept that has the backing of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats – although both parties have many members with grave doubts about the concept.

The Conservatives have always been hostile to regional government, believing it will result in another unwanted level of bureaucracy to be negotiated.

They also opposed devolution in Wales and Scotland – although they do take part in elections in those countries and would certainly stand in any elections for regional assemblies.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole is in favour of regional government – even though it would lead to the abolition of the Suffolk County Council, which he lead for more than eight years.

But he doesn't think it will happen in this part of the country for many years.

"Like most people, I think that the East of England and South East England will be the last regions to get directly-elected assemblies," he said.

"But with the concentration of functions at a regional level, many people think it is right that they should be brought under directly-elected local control," he said.

Mr Mole's only criticism about the proposal was that it has been linked to the reorganisation of local government.

"Regional government is about the devolving of power from the centre to the regions, by linking the proposal with local government reform it does look as if it will involve absorbing some local powers," he said.

"That is not the intention – it is aimed at devolving power from central government, and I think that is something we should welcome."

However the leader of the Conservative group at Suffolk County Council, Jeremy Pembroke, sees no point in regional government.

"It would inevitably lead to an unnecessary and expensive re-organisation of local government and end up with power being taken further from the people," he said.

"I represent people in Kersey, and they already complain that decisions are taken too far away in Ipswich. If they end up going to Cambridge or wherever it will be even worse.

"Everytime you get a change like this it costs millions of pounds and there's no real benefit – it should be resisted and local government should be allowed to get on with its own business with less interference from central government," he said.

What do you think about regional government: write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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