Archive for Regions

Shropshire Star: Residents warned of sub region

The following story appears in tonight’s Shropshire Star:

A Telford campaigner against a regional Government has said that giving a “sub region” tax raising powers would be bad for residents.

Hazel Blears, Communities and Local Government Secretary, yesterday announced plans which would put Telford in a new “sub region” with the Black Country, Birmingham and Coventry.

It could have powers to drive regeneration including tax raising.  Stuart Parr has been campaigning against regional Government for several years and set up the West Midlands No! Campaign website.  He said: “the West Midlands No! Campaign warned, as far back as December 2006, that the city region had ambitions for tax raising powers.  Many ‘business community’ leaders in the West Midlands have backed the city region in return for a promise they will get more say in decisions affecting both business and residents.  The people involved with the city region have no intention of consulting taxpayers and are relying on the business community for support.”

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Press Release: City Region tax-raising powers

Press Release
For Immediate Release

The West Midlands NO! Campaign warned, as far back as December 2006 [1], that the City Region had ambitions for tax raising powers.

Many “business community” leaders in the West Midlands have backed the City Region in return for a promise that they will get more of a say in decisions affecting both business and residents.

The press is today reporting that ministers are set for a collision course with this same “business community” over the possibility of the City Region having tax-raising powers! [2]

Leader of the West Midlands NO! Campaign, Stuart Parr, said “I would love to gloat and say ‘I told you so’ but this is far too serious a matter for point-scoring.  The people involved with the City Region have no intention of consulting taxpayers and are relying on the business community for support.  Hopefully the City Region will be a tax too far for West Midlands businesses – they’re our best hope for halting the progress of this expensive, toothless talking shop”.

Stuart Parr
West Midlands NO! Campaign


The West Midlands NO! Campaign is a non-partisan campaign opposed to the imposition of unaccountable, unelected, undemocratic regional government in the West Midlands.
Regionalisation has been growing throughout England, particularly in the West Midlands culminating in the proposal of a West Midlands City Region centred around Birmingham and incorporating several satellite urban areas.  The City Region has been officially named as the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region.
There is little or no support for regional government in any part of England yet the UK government and local authorities continue to cede power to unelected regional quangos without the consent of the electorate.
We believe that the introduction, extension and strengthening of regional government and quangos without the consent of the people affected is wrong and demand a public referendum on its future.
[ – ENDS – ]

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Press Release: AWM – Words are small comfort when there is very little to back them up

Press Release: AWM – Words are small comfort when there is very little to back them up

The West Midlands NO! Campaign is urging people not to be taken in by Advantage West Midlands’ self-congratulations over its response to the recent floods.

The £2m which AWM is claiming to be giving out in flood relief is money that, until recently, would have been in the hands of elected local authorities, not an unelected regional quango that is scrutinised by another unelected regional quango.

£250,000 of the £2m allocated is actually for a new attraction at the Severn Valley Railway and not flood relief, how much of the £2m will actually be spent on flood relief?

AWM claims to be offering practical assistance for businesses through its Business Link service and promoting tourism.

However, AWM recently withdrew its funding for the Heart of England Tourist Board which will cease trading at the end of the financial year as a result and they recently regionalised the local Business Link service resulting in such a poor service that the regional Business Link only receives as many phone calls as a single office used to.

Words are small comfort when there is very little to back them up.


A different type of politics?

A couple of months ago Gordon Brown said that he wanted a “different kind of politics”.  He said that he would “listen and learn”.  Gordon Brown is a liar.

When Shropshire County Council first proposed abolishing local councils and replacing them with a single, sub-regional unitary authority, people said they didn’t want it.  Three of the five districts that were under threat held referenda and all three referenda rejected the idea of one council for Shropshire.  The county council, however, showed its utter contempt for public opinion by not only continuing with its bid but submitting its proposal to central government on the day one of the referenda results were due to be announced.

In all, local democracy is being abolished in nine areas and being replaced with unitary authorities.

Comments on West Midlands NO! please.

More regionalisation from Brown

No Mandate Brown has shown that he is hell-bent on the destruction of our country and the imposition of regional government whether we want it or not.

Hot on the heels of his appointment of regional ministers to each of the euroregions in England (the West Midlands has been lumbered with Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill, ensuring the regional bureaucracy remains centred on Birmingham) comes regional question time and regional committees.

It also looks like the regional ministers will be responsible for overseeing the appointment of the chair and board of the regional development agencies, meaning that regional quangos will be even more politicised and loyal to the Labour Party.

Brown appoints Regional Ministers

No Mandate Brown, the unelected pretender to the office of First Minister of England, has dealt what may prove to be England’s fatal blow.

The Goblin King has appointed a Minister for each of the made-up regions of England.  Before his coronation as unelected Prime Minister the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath made noises about resurrecting regional government in England even though it has been thoroughly rejected by voters and declared dead by Traitor Bliar.

How dare Gordon Brown, who fought for the establish of a national parliament for his own country, presume to undermine the very existence of England.

I’ve written a more in-depth piece on this on the West Midlands NO! blog.

More PC shit

The DTI is using taxpayers money to fund a “task force” to investigate barriers to black and ethnic minority businesses.

Apparently, black and ethnic minority business owners find it harder to get finance for their business than white people born here.

The “task force” looks like being another one of these unelected, taxpayer funded regional quangos if this is anything to go by:

Tom Riordan, the chief executive at the Yorkshire regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, with be the deputy chair.

“I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this agenda and I am delighted Yorkshire Forward has agreed to lead in supporting the task force,” Ms Malik said. “Ethnic minority businesses make a significant contribution to GDP so it is important they are supported and encouraged to flourish.”

Mr Riordan said: “If the English regions are to achieve their economic potential, then we need to create the conditions for [black and minority ethnic] businesses to grow and prosper. To do so, we need to make sure they have access to the same levels of support as any other business. I intend to make sure that the task force has a real impact on the delivery of business support across England.”

Could it be that asians are a credit risk?  Could the fact that a lot of asians use more than one name and freely share their identities be a reason why banks are reluctant to loan them money?  I know from personal experience that this happens and it happens often.  I’d be interested to see some sort of statistics on the demographics of bad debts, in particular whether black and ethnic minority groups are statistically more likely to be bad debtors that white English people.  If this is the case then the “discrimination” is perfectly justified and the British government has no place interfering.  Credit Reference Agencies and Banks have built up their credit scoring systems over decades using their own experiences to identify which people are likely to be a higher risk.  Who knows best – banks and credit reference agencies or oppressively-PC civil servants and special (ie. self-) interest pressure groups?

Regional Bullshit Report

Too angry to talk about this any more – just read this.

PRESS RELEASE – Rotherwas Access Road

Rotherwas Access Road

Work has commenced on the £12m Rotherwas Access Road, partly funded by the unelected regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands (AWM). [1]

AWM is part-funding the access road through a £9.5m “Rotherwas Futures” project [2] but the scheme has already been refused funding by the Department for Transport because it does not offer value for money. [3]

A report published last week and endorsed by Labour ministers describes regional quangos such as Advantage West Midlands as a waste of money and suggests that they should be abolished.  The cost of regional development agencies, regional assemblies and regional government offices to the taxpayer is £360m per year – when other regional quangos are taken into account the cost is closer to £500m. [4]

West Midlands NO! Campaign spokesman, Stuart Parr, says “There is no reason why unelected regional quangos like AWM should be in control of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money when we have elected councils that are perfectly capable of spending our money for us.  If we don’t like the way our councils spend our money we can get rid of them at the next local election.  With AWM we can’t do this – the whole organisation is unelected and unaccountable to members of the public.  Spending £9.5m of our money on something the Department for Transport has said is a waste of money is wrong.”

Stuart Parr
West Midlands NO! Campaign
07973 286118


West Midlands NO! is a non-partisan campaign group opposed to regional government in the West Midlands.  The campaign believes that regional quangos such as the West Midlands Regional Assembly and Advantage West Midlands should be abolished and the powers, responsibility and funding they have given back to elected local authorities.  The campaign has a petition on the Prime Minister’s website –

Regional Assembly boss opposes regional assemblies

One of the most bizarre things to come out of Sunday’s BBC Politics Show on Advantage West Midlands (AWM) was the chief exec of the West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA) saying that he opposes regional assemblies!

That should go down well at the EU Committee of Regions.

West Midlands NO! on BBC website

As mentioned the other day, West Midlands NO! will be featured on todays BBC Politics Show at 12 o’clock on BBC1.

The Politics Show website has been updated with details of the programme and a mention of the West Midlands NO! Campaign.


I was interviewed by the BBC last night for a Politics Show programme on Advantage West Midlands.

The show is being broadcast at 12 noon this Sunday on BBC1.

Petition the PM: Abolish regional quangos 

England is infested with undemocratic, unaccountable regional quango’s. These include regional assemblies, regional development agencies, regional observatories and the new city regions.

None of these quango’s are elected and none of them answer to the public yet they cost the taxpayer billions of pounds.

This whole tier of unwanted regional government should be abolished and the powers and responsibilites they have given back to our elected local councils.

West Midlands NO! article in Birmingham Post

The following West Midlands NO! campaign article appeared in the Birmingham Post on 27th December:

If someone were to tell you that the biggest threat to England right now was regionalisation you would probably laugh at them but it’s true and it’s happening right now.

England is infested with regional quango’s – all unelected and all paid for by the taxpayer – yet most people have never heard of them, let alone know what it is that they do with our money.

Test the theory now – ask the next 10 people you have a conversation with what the West Midlands Regional Assembly does. How many said they’d never even heard of the West Midlands Regional Assembly? Probably all of them and it’s hardly surprising.

The only regional quango that publicises itself – or rather what it does – is Advantage West Midlands. AWM is actually the West Midlands Regional Development Agency by another name. Recently, through the local press, the new chairman of AWM asked the people of the West Midlands how they would like them to spend their £10,000,000,000 budget next year. Count the zero’s – that’s £10 billion of taxpayers money given to an unelected regional development agency to spend as they see fit with the proviso that they believe the money is being spent for the good of the region.

Advantage West Midlands is almost unique amongst the regional quango’s in that it comes under the jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Act which means that, even though we can’t actually do anything about it, we can at least see what it is they’re up to. This isn’t the case for other regional quango’s – the Regional Assembly being the biggest of these – who are immune from the Freedom of Information Act and can operate in complete secrecy.

There are two main drivers behind regionalisation in England. The first is the EU, which has divided every member state into regions. The reasoning behind this is twofold: firstly, the EU is large and diverse and dividing it into regions makes it easier to govern; secondly, replacing national identities with regional identities will make it easier to subsume member states into a European Federation. The second main driver is the difficulty the Labour Party has in maintaining a majority in England. Dividing England into 9 regions, each with its own regional parliament, would mean that adding only 4 of the 9 English regions to Labour’s virtually guaranteed vote in Scotland and Wales would enable the party to govern England with the support of less than half of the country.

Two years ago, John Prescott ordered referenda in each of the 9 English regions on having an elected Regional Assembly. The Regional Assemblies would have limited powers devolved to them from central government and would have taken away some powers from local authorities. The North East region was chosen to hold the first referendum as it was the region thought to have the highest level of support for regional government. The referendum resulted in a 78% no vote – the biggest referendum defeat of any British government in history. However, rather than abandoning the regionalisation project, Mr Prescott merely cancelled the remaining referenda and gave the unelected regional assemblies more powers.

The English public’s rejection of regional assemblies and the EU’s insistence on regional government left the British government with a dilemma and the answer was city regions.

The West Midlands will be the first place to have a city region – the Birmingham, Black Country and Coventry City Region. Despite only covering the urban areas of the West Midlands euroregion, the City Region has the potential to have a damaging impact on the whole region. This is because, unlike the Regional Assembly and other region-wide quango’s, the City Region will only concern itself with the urban areas in the West Midlands, sucking jobs, investment and funding out of the rural parts of the region. You might think this won’t affect you in the metropolis that is Birmingham, but ask yourself this: if farms and other local food producers go out of business, how much more expensive is your weekly shopping bill going to be? Are there enough jobs in the cities for these unemployed country folk?

Whilst Birmingham will undoubtedly dominate the City Region, some concessions will have to be made to the other towns and cities involved. Working with other local authorities on mutually beneficial projects is a good thing but what about when something that benefits the rest of the City Region doesn’t benefit Birmingham? Would you be happy to accept something that might cost jobs or investment in Birmingham for the benefit of Solihull or Walsall?

The City Region will fundamentally change the way local government works in the West Midlands yet despite nobody ever having stood for election on a manifesto of creating this City Region, the local authorities involved all claim to have a democratic mandate to do so. Not one of the local authorities involved will hold a referendum and so far none have held public consultations.

The City Region has plans to gain tax raising powers and to become the planning authority for all the local authorities in the City Region. Councillors and “business leaders” from Coventry or Telford could end up casting the deciding vote on whether or not Mr Smith can build a garage in his garden in Aston or whether a school in Edgbaston can build a new classroom.

As is the norm with all regional government, nobody will be elected to the City Region cabinet. The Leader and Chief Executive of each council will be appointed to the City Region executive board and oversight committee respectively. They will be joined by “business leaders” who will also be appointed based on their pro-Labour, pro-EU and pro-regional credentials.

The Minister for Communities and Local Government has expressed concern about the accountability of an unelected City Region and small wonder. Scrutiny of the City Region’s work will be provided by the unelected Regional Assembly and Advantage West Midlands – kind of like the lunatics running the asylum!

Regional government is unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted. Millions of pounds of taxpayers money is spent on keeping this vast regional bureaucracy in existence, pitting region against region instead of working together to tackle the real problems facing the country and the West Midlands.

Illiberal Democrats

An Illiberal Democrat councillor at Bridgnorth suggests that Bridgnorth District Council’s decision to defer a second vote on a unitary authority for Shropshire whilst the chairman of the council was on holiday (the chairman had cast the deciding no vote last time) was of dubious legality because it was a common law from 1895.

Said councillor has been well and truly fisked on West Midlands NO!.

More city region lies from Telford

On the front page of the Telford edition of today’s Shropshire Star is a story about the cost of the city region to the council taxpayers of Telford.

Taxpayers are likely to stump up more than £100,000 over the next few years to finance Telford’s new role in the West Midlands City Region, it was revealed today.

Borough councillors are being urged to spend £22,571 on “management and administration costs” in the current financial year. And this is likely to be an ongoing demand on the authority’s budget, says a report to Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet.

The decision to join forces with Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country in a new role on the West Midlands City Region was made by the cabinet in April.

Gerry Dawson, the man in charge of Telford & Wrekin’s city region project, has told the cabinet to set aside £100k to cover their share of the administrative and managerial costs of the city region for the next 4 years.

What is interesting isn’t the fact that all this taxpayers money is going to be spent on an unelected quango without the electorate getting a say in it but the fact that Telford & Wrekin Council still claim not to have any idea of how much the city region or any of the other quango’s cost the taxpayers of Telford.  In fact, just yesterday Gerry Dawson claimed not to know how much membership of the West Midlands Regional Assembly costs.  Where does the money come from?  How does anyone know if it is cost effective for Telford to be a member of any of these quango’s if they don’t even know how much it costs?

Telford Council Watch have this to say:

Telford and Wrekin Council have recently issued a press release with regards a 3% increase in Council Tax and openly stated that they

“Operate with tight Financial Constraints”

But are still able to juggle budgets to finance schemes THEY WANT.

Initially it was £1.3 million into a private venture that was known as Telford First – now known as “Transforming Telford”.


The Council are prepared to pay huge sums of Tax Payers Money into an unelected quango that is not needed, cumbersome and ineffective. Again this is a venture that has been shrouded in Secrecy and AGAIN the Residents of Telford and Wrekin are being forced to Finance an expensive Political Mechanism and not allowed to have a say.

£100,000 will, without a doubt be a minimum figure. There will be a huge amount of other costs associated with the City Region that the Council will hide.

It is clear, that Council Chiefs operate a Policy of Secrecy and even avoid answering questions that are asked under The Freedom of Information.

It is about time that all who oppose these Dirty Tricks carried out by the Council Unite as one voice, they cannot turn our Democracy into an autocracy.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Comments on West Midlands NO! please.

EU Constitutional Convention shows us the price we pay for having unelected, ineffective regional government.

The EU is hosting a constitutional convention to decide the future of a European state.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been invited but there will be no English representation because England’s euroregions don’t have law-making powers.

The answer is simple.  Abolish regional government in England and tell the EU that if they must divide the UK into regions then there are 4 of them – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  If they don’t like it then it’s tough, they need us more than we need them.

Via Toque

David Wright MP wants us to have say on local government

Telford MP, David Wright, is urging his constituents to have their say on local government.

He can be contacted at

Might I suggest something like:

Dear David,

I saw your piece in the Shropshire Star inviting people to get in touch and have their say on local government. About time someone asked!

Giving more power to local authorities is a good idea. Great idea in fact. But it mustn’t be touted as the answer to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies. Devolving power to local authorities isn’t the same as having a national government and there is no way a local authority could ever hope to compete with the power and influence the devolved governments in the rest of the UK have.

Also, regional government has to be swept away. Completely. Devolving power to local authorities and then leaving a vast, unelected, unaccountable regional bureaucracy poking its nose into local affairs completely defeats the object. There’s no point devolving transport, environment, etc. to local authorities and then having a city region, regional assembly, regional government office, etc. having their own policies on the same subject which may or may not be of benefit or fit in with the local policies.



CEP complaint on BBC bias

Mike Knowles, the chairman of the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP), has written a strongly worded letter of complaint to the BBC over its anti-English bias in general and specifically over this regionalisation “story” which I covered the other day.

On a related note, anyone in the West Midlands who is opposed to – or wants more information on – the regions should visit the West Midlands NO! Campaign.

BBC regional government spin

The BBC have carried out a poll in the North East euroregion on devolution and concluded that there is support for regional government because 69% want local control on issues such as transport.  The people questioned said they didn’t like unelected regional assemblies and only 20% of people think they do a worthwhile job.

The results of the survey do not indicate support for regional government.  The results say that the people of the North East want more control of local affairs.  The BBC doesn’t suggest that perhaps the desire to have more local control over transport is down to the fact that an MP elected in North Britain has control of England’s transport, something the people in the North East are particularly aware of and increasingly vocal about.

The answer to unaccountable central government is not regionalisation.  Regional government is not accountable, nor is it popular.  The British government is highly centralised as far as England is concerned but what people do not want is centralised regional government.  The euroregions, city regions and the new transnational regions aren’t local, they’re regional.  The West Midlands euroregion is a perfect example of how a single regional policy can’t be suitable for the whole region – it contains one of the largest urban sprawls in England at one extreme and the most rural county in England at the other.

It is clear that there is no real support for regional government in the North East or elsewhere in England which only leaves the question of why the BBC would choose to spin this story so outrageously to suggest that there is.  Could it be anything to do with the funding that the European Federation – the architects and chief supporters of the regions – give to the BBC to fund varied programming including news an education?