Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, launched an attack on ‘regionalisation by stealth‘ as powers are transferred from democratic local councils – such as from Herts County Council – to undemocratic regional tiers of government – like the Government Office for the East of England and the East of England Regional Assembly. He warned that powers over housing, planning, transport and fire were being shifted to a regional level, silencing local communities and local councillors.
In the autumn, three regions (North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humber) will hold referenda on whether to establish elected regional assemblies. There are no plans for a referendum in our area. Unaccountable regional bodies are already seizing powers by stealth from local authorities, transferring power to a regional level, irrespective of any referendum decision.
Peter Lilley 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 and they are not democratically accountable.
“The transfer of power to bureaucrats in Cambridge 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 try to manipulate the referenda this autumn and disregard any ‘No‘ votes to accelerate the process of regionalisation in England whatever happens.”