English Regional Assemblies

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2004 National Delegate Conference
2 March 2004
Carried as Amended

2004 is likely to be a significant year in determining the future governance of England as three regions hold a referendum on directly elected assemblies. UNISON has consistently opposed, and continues to resist, the reorganisation of local government that will take place following a yes vote. Over the past year UNISON has resisted the government’s proposals to create a unitary tier of local government in conjunction with the creation of directly elected assemblies and made representations to this effect at both national and regional level. Nevertheless, our efforts have been resisted, regional referendums will now be held and the government information campaign has begun.

The current UNISON policy is to support the principle of directly elected assemblies in England. However this policy must be reinforced by a regional decision based upon the need to safeguard members’ interests by:

1)safeguarding jobs;

2)promoting public services;

3)ensuring better governance.

Our experience is that devolution in other parts of the UK has successfully achieved these goals.

Conference therefore believes that it is in the interests of the whole union to continue to work with the government and various agencies in order that we can prevent job losses within local government, place the public service agenda and UNISON’s positively public campaign at the heart of any assembly’s work programme, and make certain that these new institutions create a more inclusive, involved form of governance.

In order to do so Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to:

a)purse a commitment and agreement from government that local government reorganisation will not lead to compulsory job losses, cuts in conditions of service or loss of pay;

b)form an inter-region group where regions facing a referendum can assist one another and share information and best practice;

c)work with regions and branches to produce union-based guidance and information on the government’s proposals;

d)promote the debate over the impact of regional government within branches through the resources available within the political fund.

In the event of a vote in favour of regional assemblies in the three regions holding referenda this year, Conference is aware that other English regions outside London will remain without such assemblies.

Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to consult urgently with the remaining regional councils not covered by regional assemblies after the referenda to determine a plan of action to promote UNISON’s policies on regional assemblies in those regions.