English Regional Government

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2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference notes publication in May 2002 by the Government of ‘Your Region – Your Choice – Revitalising the English Regions’. Conference re-affirms its general commitment to regional government and the potential offered by it to:

1)‘Draw down’ powers from central government and enhance local democracy

2)Democratise the ‘quango state’ and Government Offices in the regions

3)Provide a strategic framework on transport, planning, housing and other key areas of infrastructure for local authorities

4)Engage citizens, community organisations, trade unions and service users in developing regional strategies and decision making

5)Promote the well-being of regions through appropriate powers

However, Conference notes with alarm that the Government intends the establishment of Regional Assemblies to go alongside the creation of single tier authorities and the abolition of county and district councils.

Further, Conference is aware of the desire of a number of local authorities to break up national pay bargaining to a regional or perhaps local level.

Conference regrets that the 2002 Local Government Service Group Conference was unable to debate this issue because of the shortage of time. Local government should not be forced to undergo further re-organisation at this time, with no proof that such a step would enhance the efficacy of regional government or local democracy.

Conference instructs the SGE to oppose the creation of regional government on the basis of the white paper published in May 2002 and to continue to campaign for the retention of the current local government structure until after the establishment of regional assemblies, when this can be democratically determined, and for:

a)Stronger powers for regions to ‘democratise’ the quango state, bringing them under democratic control

b)A duty of well-being within Regions, to be extended to local councils

c)Devolution of grant-making, planning and other powers from central government to Regions and local authorities

d)Strong mechanisms for consulting and involving the public and other stakeholders to ensure accountability and effectiveness

e)A requirement on Regional Assemblies to consult Regional TUC’s and their constituent unions on all key issues, and provide a role for trade unions

f)Resistance to the break up of national pay bargaining within the Local Government Pay Commission

Conference further calls on the SGE to keep UNISON Regions and branches informed of developments relating to regional government and consult on key policy issues when they arise.