Less Regional Development, More Local Referenda And Debateable Democracy

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If you value it, vote for it So David Cameron says he'd like to see UK referenda on local taxation and much else; whilst another Conservative says they want to do away with regional development agencies - though local councils may thereafter join up to reinstate these if they wish. But some of us recall the damage done to northern parts by the abolition in 1986 of the Metropolitan County Councils, and the energy invested later on in having to re-create the regional development agenda. Will local democracy really be enhanced by taking decision-making away from elected councillors?

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What region? Merseyside covered most of metropolitan Liverpool, not the Whitehall invention of a "North West" region, a construct that exists to bleed all functions and local decision-making away from Liverpool and advantage a rival city, Manchester, at Liverpool's expense.

The recent hand wringing over plans to relocate yet more top grade administrative jobs from Liverpool to Manchester is misguided, if not downright hypocritical, as this is merely the inevitable consequence of 'Merseyside's elite deciding to throw their lot in with the quasi-soviet 'North West' in the late 90s'. As far as I can see, those who have been most vociferous on the issue are those who were so supportive of and actively involved in 'Englandsnorthwest'.

If Liverpool's city-region does not have control of major strategic fields then how on earth can it possibly control its own destiny? If anybody doubts the huge cost to the Liverpool city region of this decision, they only have to check the regional 'yellow Pages' to see how many regional bodies, groups, institutions and charities have now regionalised, and more importantly, how many reside in Liverpool and how many do NOT. City-regionalism and regionalism are mutually incompatible.

The only answer is to reverse those decisions, and rebuild the metropolitan based infrastructure that has been regionalised over the last decade, costing us probaly thousands of jobs as well as influence. The city may, ironically, have to depend on a new tory government to help us undo a decade of the city's power structures being disembowelled and handed on a plate to one of our major competitor cities!

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