The first campaign group in the West Midlands opposing regional government is launched on Monday 2nd October 2006.
The West Midlands NO! campaign is calling on local authorities involved in the proposed Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region to hold binding referenda on whether to join the City Region instead of making the decision privately and behind closed doors. West Midlands NO! will also be urging local authorities throughout the West Midlands euroregion that are not involved in the City Region proposal to oppose the the City Region.
It is unclear exactly what powers will be handed from our elected representatives to the unelected City Region as very little information is being made public but it is clear that yet another expensive, taxpayer-funded regional government is not going to provide value for money. The West Midlands has had regional government in the form of the unelected West Midlands City Region since 1999 which has not only failed to make any significant impact in the region but has singularly failed to engage the public, most of whom haven’t even heard of the Assembly despite it having extensive and far reaching powers.
West Midlands NO! contends that there is little or no support amonst the public for regional government. In the only referendum on regional government in England, the people of the North East euroregion rejected an elected assembly with a 78% “no” vote two years ago. The North East euroregion was considered by the British government to have the most support for regional government yet only 22% of people supported it . It is therefore reasonable to assume that far less than 22% of people in the West Midlands support regional government and that the local authorities conspiring to impose yet more regional government in the West Midlands are doing so against the wishes of the people they are elected to represent. Nobody in the West Midlands has been elected to office on a manifesto of regionalisation and therefore nobody has a mandate to make such fundamental changes to local government in the West Midlands without first gaining the consent of the electorate via a referendum.
West Midlands NO! will aim to provide the public with such information that is available on the City Region in a clear and honest way to enable them to make an informed decision on the City Region. Local authorities involved in the project have shown themselves to be unwilling to do this by refusing to provide information on the proposals and producing press releases that mis-represent facts. A press release on 5th August claimed that central government had granted £5m to the City Region to tackle poverty and unemployment. The City Region does not exist and the money was actually granted to the Learning and Skills Council to be distributed around the whole country. The architects of the City Region have already resorting to misleading statements, censorship and propaganda in order to sell their City Region and the proposals still haven’t been finalised yet! 
In addition to opposing the City Region, West Midlands NO! will be calling on local authorities to withdraw their support and co-operation with the unelected and undemocratic regional quango’s that have already been established. Elections are held for a reason and we do not believe that people would be happy if they realised exactly how much power the unelected regional quoango’s have grabbed from their elected representatives.
Anyone wishing to find out more information on the City Region or to offer assistance to the campaign is invited to contact West Midlands NO! via our website (http://wmno.wordpress.com/) or by telephone on 07973296118.
West Midlands NO![ENDS]
Note to editors:
- The campaign is not affiliated to nor associated with any political party or campaign group.
- Local authorities refuse to provide City region documents including proposals, even when requested under the Freedom of Information Act, on the basis that they will be published in the future (ie. when all the decisions have been made and there is no time to organise any effective opposition).
- The blueprint for City Regions produced by the British government has them having the power to impose a levy on business rates.
- The term “indirectly elected” used to argue that regional government is not “unelected” is simply smoke and mirrors and does not change the fact that nobody is elected to serve a regional quango, whether they are elected to a council that is signed up to it or not.
- The current regional quango’s – West Midlands Regional Assembly, Advatage West Midlands, etc. – are all exempt from the Freedom of Information Act even though they are a public service funded by the taxpayer.
- Information released early in the planning process of the City Region showed that scrutiny of the unelected City Region would be be provided by the unelected West Midlands Regional Assembly and that both the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council for each participating local authority would get a job in the City Region.