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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 18:39 GMT
Why did the North East shun regional assembly?
Angel of the north
People in the North East of England have voted an overwhelming "no" in the referendum on a regional assembly.

More than three quarters of voters were against the plans and nearly half the regions eligible voters took part in the all-postal ballot. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott admitted "emphatic defeat".

Local government minister Nick Raynsford said the government was considering the options and deciding whether to continue with planned referendums in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North West.

Did you vote in the referendum? What are your views on regional assemblies? Why did people vote against a North East assembly? Should the referendums for other northern regions still take place?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Rick Hough, Knutsford, Cheshire, UK:
Does the no vote for the North East regional assembly mean the end for the idea?

I was delighted to see the people of the North East reject this crazy idea. Regrettably though, it's not going anywhere. It will resurface in another guise. The NE region was a test as it does have a very strong identity and history which was the essence of the Yes campaign. It's about giving people some local government so that the bigger issues can get devolved to Brussels and still the people feel that they have a democratic representation.
Tim, London, UK

Why did the North East vote 'no'? Good question. I guess it's because the majority of people living in the area are a bunch of cynics and do not want better representation, democracy and, ultimately, more say over how their area is governed. They reject bringing government down to a lower level on the grounds of cynicism. I can't understand why the people of the North East are so sceptical. I think referendums should go ahead in the other suggested areas and then maybe North Easterners will realise their downfall.
Richard Simpson, Middlesbrough

Don't fool yourself. All the N.E. has rejected is an elected regional assembly, the unelected one they already have will remain in place and continue with their mischief. Look on their websites to see who they are and the powers they have taken from elected councils. The South East regional assembly (SEERA) has recently published a report on people's views; this includes the results of a poll which shows 51% of people would vote for a S.E. regional assembly. If you believe this then the moon's made of cheese. Don't forget it was our money that produced this nonsense and they will be after more of it if given the chance.
Basil Smith, Fleet

A sad, sad missed opportunity
Chris, Co Durham
I voted yes. All this talk of "extra" politicians was obviously swallowed by those who missed the part on the ballot about consolidating the existing two tiers of local government into one. As for "few" new powers - it'll at least be a few more than we have now. A sad, sad missed opportunity squandered by the people believing those screaming that it'll cost more and ignoring the facts.
Chris, Co Durham

The reason I did not bother to vote is that the referendum paper should have given us 3 choices Yes, no or come back with a better offer. I'm all for a real assembly giving real autonomy to the people of the North East, but not the toothless talking shop they tried to foist on us.
Stephen, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England

Simple, the people of the North East are far more intelligent than the Government thinks. They knew it would be an extra layer of Government, an extra gravy train for the favoured boys and girls, without any power or benefit to the North East. This should be a wake up call to the Government. They are out of touch with public opinion.
Terry Emerson, London, UK

At least at the moment we have some kind of power locally
Nicola McAndrew, Berwick upon Tweed
I voted "no" because I feel disenfranchised enough by the current Northumberland County Council. South Northumberland is a very different place to the north of the county. We are a very rural, sparsely populated area which is largely either ignored or imposed upon. I felt moving all local authority offices to the south of Northumberland would not benefit us at all. At least at the moment we have some kind of power locally. It might not be doing too well, but it is local and is run and staffed by locals.
Nicola McAndrew, Berwick upon Tweed

Cynicism of politicians, the public sector and good government is poisoning any attempt at progress in this country. Not everyone is out to make a quick buck! I fully support what's happened with the London assembly and would happily devolve even further powers. Wake up Britain!
Michael Contaldo, London

Nice to see Prescott's ludicrous EU-inspired regional assembly idea has been dumped good and proper. Now let's get rid of the MEPs, SMPs and WAMPs and save billions! And whilst we're about it let's halve the number of MPs as well.
Nick, Worcester, England

To understand the failure of the NE regional assembly you need to understand two things. Firstly, the "yes" campaign was virtually non-existent. The only advertising I've noticed was for the "no" campaign and their assertion that the assembly would be a 25M talking shop. Secondly, the internal politics in the NE. Mackems (Sunderlanders), Smoggies (Teesiders), Monkey-Hangers (Hartlepool) and the Pink Panther mob (Durham) don't want to be beholden to a Newcastle based assembly, merely reinforcing the prime position of the "Geordie Mafia".
Paul, Sunderland, UK

As a 'no' voter, I decided on my vote because we would end up with more local bureaucracy, higher costs and very little autonomous power for the region as a result. The whole set-up for a regional assembly is badly flawed and almost guarantees a 'no' vote for anyone who looks beyond the surface hype and works out exactly how it will impact them.
Mo C, Durham

Well done to the people of the North East. You will not now have to pay for an assembly of yes men and cronies. And of course you won't need to house them in an overpriced building as we Scots have.
John, Glasgow, Scotland

John Prescott doesn't listen to what the people think - he will simply ignore this voting nonsense, just as he did with our local gas plant (no-one wanted but got) and sports centre (everyone wanted but he refused). I'd like to think this would be the end of Two Jags but I doubt it. This government doesn't give a fig what the voters think.
Richard Hough, Knutsford, Cheshire, UK

I believe that the North East needs some form of authority that actually has some powers unlike the expensive talking shop I voted against.
Zippy, Stanley, Co. Durham

I agree with Zippy. I voted 'no' to more cost and politicians with zero powers. I'd have voted 'yes' to an organisation with real powers, a real budget and real ideas of how to improve the physical and social infrastructure of the North East.
Dave Gibson, Tynemouth, N. Tyneside

There hasn't been a big selling of the idea in the North East
Andy, Newcastle
Main reason why I voted against was that no-one, neither the no campaigners nor the yes campaigners could tell me what it was about. There hasn't been a big selling of the idea in the North East, at least not that I have seen. I had one leaflet in the entire course of the discussion. If they had actually put some effort into the campaign then it might have succeeded, but if they couldn't be bothered campaigning why would they be bothered to make the assembly a success? That's why I voted no.
Andy, Newcastle

All this is missing the point. The real issue is the gross unfairness of the Scots being able to govern Scotland AND also having a say in how things are run in England. There should be an English Parliament comprising only English constituencies, a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Parliament (if they want one) and a Northern Irish Parliament. The Parliament of the United Kingdom could either meet less frequently to consider foreign policy etc or could perhaps become the second house to ratify laws made in Scotland, England, Wales and N. Ireland. Thus each kingdom/province could govern themselves without dismantling the United Kingdom.
Ben Heffer, Oxford

I don't live there myself, but I imagine the people voted against what was likely to become just another talking shop with no real powers except the power to take even more money from already hard-pressed taxpayers. People don't want another layer of powerless politicians and don't want to shell out even more cash for another bunch of no-hopers to interfere with their lives.
John B, UK

We don't need yet another tier of bureaucracy
John M, Lyne Meads, UK
The Government likes regional councils because they have no real power but can take more of the blame when things go wrong. We already have parish, district and county councils to take the blame, we don't need yet another tier of bureaucracy. This country is too small for so many layers of government. County councils are probably just about the right size for the largest unit of administration below national government.
John M, Lyne Meads, UK

I voted against the Welsh assembly as a resident of Wales because it was just going to be a "talking shop". I believe regional government should be just that and have a degree of independence from Westminster. With the regional assemblies there would have been be a reduced need for a centralised UK Government. EU policy would be set in Brussels and local policy in the assemblies. Pretty much any other arrangement results in an unnecessary level of government and I believe the people of the North East saw that and voted accordingly.
Richard Crossley, Athlone, Ireland (ex-UK)

More politicians, why? There are too many already on the gravy train. Well done to the voters.
Jim Hall, Northampton, England

Because it was a waste of money? That, and the fact the John Prescott wanted it seems a good enough reason to say no...
Chris Rose, Oxford

People want to run their own business without further government interference
Carlos Cortiglia, London, United Kingdom
The outcome can be explained fairly easily. We already had in London 33 Local Authorities. Then came another layer of government called the London Assembly and it added even further to the taxation burden and we are still to see the promised good results out of it. I guess people are fed up of paying and paying taxes, of subsidizing more and more political non-entities. We had a country that is in fact four countries in one with different legal system, with different approaches regarding education, health and pensions. On the other hand, people are constantly losing control over their own affairs. Recently, Cambridghire had to accept a project to build 400,000 new homes on farming land and Oxfordshire was forced to accept the building of asylum seekers houses in small rural villages. The outcome of this referendum tells the government and everybody else with no uncertain words that people want to run their own business without further government interference.
Carlos Cortiglia, London, United Kingdom

It's obvious why it was rejected. People have had enough of politicians both local & national on the public sector gravy train paid for by people who work in the private sector & live in the real world.
David, England

Why do we need regional assemblies? What is wrong with central control. If we go for regional assemblies we might as well go back to the 12th/13th Centuries and learn from that history what value regional control had and then ask why we moved forward from regional to central government! Apart from that any idea from Two Jags is a non runner from that word go -unless it involves biffing members of the public!
Alan Glenister, Bushey, Herts UK

This is an overwhelming rejection of a policy which Labour should simply bury without trace
Nigel Cubbage, UK
This is an overwhelming rejection of a policy which Labour should simply bury without trace. Ordinary people saw it for what it was - complete nonsense. We demand a decent service from the politicians and local councillors for whom we already pay a fortune - not more absolving by Prescott of responsibility and creating somebody central government can blame when things go wrong.
Nigel Cubbage, UK

The North East has representation in the cabinet - the Prime Minister's constituency is in the North East! - and yet we are still disadvantaged by mechanisms such as the Barnett Formula. If having such powerful influence in Westminster cannot alter things in the North East then what effect would removing that 'influence' in favour of a watered-down assembly have, other than to create further tiers of bureaucracy? What would an assembly in Durham know of the needs of people in Wallsend or Berwick?
Peter Martin, UK

I voted against the Regional Assembly because it would have no real power. To make a Regional Assembly effective would require Whitehall to give up some of its decision making and revenue raising powers to such a body. I don't think there is the political will in Whitehall to do that. So regretfully (because I believe that devolution is one of the solutions to the North's problems), I voted no.
Brian, Durham, UK

Regionalisation would inevitably lead to the breaking-up of England
Andy, Manchester, England
Why? Because they could see it was a fiddle. There were virtually no extra powers on offer, and it would have ended up as just another gravy-train. Secondly, they could see that regionalisation would inevitably lead to the breaking-up of England, and this is not desirable. Instead of these footling (but dangerous) regional assemblies, England needs it's own Parliament, like Scotland has. It would be able to run English affairs for the English people - I'd vote for that!
Andy, Manchester, England

The reason we voted no is because there are already too many politicians who sit on their fat behinds doing nothing for huge sums of money. Why would we possibly want to create even more.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

It's global worming - winters aren't a cold as they used to be, so there's no need for al the hot air the assembly would have generated!
John B, UK

Why do I want to pay for another level of Government?
Bob, Hexham

Useless but expensive talking shops
Richard Read, London, UK
As with all of these regional assembly ideas you have to ask yourself if you believe that Westminster is really going to devolve any useful powers. I suspect not and that leaves the assemblies as useless but expensive talking shops.
Richard Read, London, UK

I'd welcome a referenda in the North West so we can finally lay Prescott's folly to rest. If you thought the vote in the North East was an emphatic NO, then you ain't seen nothing yet!
Duncan, Lancashire

I'm a little surprised at the emphatic defeat. I would have thought - In this time of 'no confidence' in the government - A more localised power would be a worthwhile option. Although, as a downside, it would make the UK more like the USA (not a good thing) with different laws and regulations when you cross the 'state line'.
Louise, Lincoln, UK

It is, however, the logical follow-up to having separate Welsh and Scottish parliaments
Ken Ricketts, Wokingham, UK
The whole thing was mainly an attempt to head off the idea of an English parliament set up on the same lines (and with similar powers) as the Scottish parliament. Westminster politicians hate the thought of this, since a lot of real power would have to be transferred to it, and away from them. In particular, it would make it much more obvious how much public money is directed towards Scotland and Wales at the expense of England. It is, however, the logical follow-up to having separate Welsh and Scottish parliaments.
Ken Ricketts, Wokingham, UK

I voted "yes" but I was only mildly in favour of it. I suspect the reason why I was only "mildly" in favour of it is the same reason why others voted "no" - it didn't have that much power. All it did was give elected politicians control over the budget of regional development agencies. Whilst that's a good end in itself, it's not empowering the regions. If you're offering us a car, give us a car not a Tonka!
Francisco, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Probably because the electorate are not as stupid as the Government thinks they are.
Al, Skipton, UK

That's easy to answer:
1) We have a government modelling themselves on a corrupt American system
2) We have politicians who lie through their teeth
3) We have politicians who cost far too much money in wages and expenses.
I think the point is that we don't need more!
Nik, Sheffield

The budget for the regional devolution project would be better spent on our modest pension fund
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK
Could it mean "no" to paying more tax, and "yes" to common sense? Britain already has a system of regional government. Regional assemblies are not required. Prescott should get in touch or get out. Plans for referendums in other Northern regions should be abandoned and government priorities should be reassessed. Perhaps the budget for the regional devolution project would be better spent on our modest pension fund?
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK

Who in their right mind is going to vote for more politicians, more civil servants and more council tax to pay for it all?
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

I heard Mr Prescott saying something along the lines that this matter wasn't closed, presumably because whatever passes for thinking in his department considers that only when a "Yes" is achieved will democracy have been served.
Edward, UK

Because they looked at the GLA in action and decided to do the sensible thing.
Garry Waddell, Ruisplip, UK





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