The Death and Life of English Regions
At 2am on 5th November 2004, the concept of English regional government appeared to have died an ignominious death. A referendum in the North-East region of England, asking voters whether or not an elected assembly should be established in the region, returned a vote of 22 per cent in favour of the proposition and 78 per cent against. A vote of such magnitude against the idea was wholly unexpected, in the light of the substantial campaigning efforts by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and his team through 2004, and in the light of years of opinion polls indicating strong support for the concept in the North-East, accompanied by often lukewarm support in other regions. As further referendums in the North-West and Yorkshire & Humber regions were abandoned on 8th November, regional government promptly disappeared from the press and public view. However, the debate over elected regional assemblies, though it attracted considerable short-term press interest, was only the tip of the iceberg of the development of patterns of governance within the English regions. Many institutions, individuals and non-public organisations continue to participate in policy-making, discussion, and disbursement of public funds, all of which are oriented around a division of England into nine regional parts. Rumours of the death of English regions are somewhat exaggerated.
KeywordsRegional Government Civic Engagement Constitution Unit Regional Assembly Executive Power
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