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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Plans to scrap assembly attacked
EERA oversees housing spending in the East of England
The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has criticised plans to hand its housing and transport powers to an "unelected" development agency.

The government has announced plans to abolish regional assemblies. In the East its power would go to the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

EERA is concerned that EEDA lacks its democratic accountability.

The government says the plans will bring consultation and planning for jobs and homes closer together.

Local government minister John Healey said last week that ministers would "strengthen public scrutiny and accountability of regional plans and the work of development agencies".

'Important check'

EERA has called for an urgent meeting with the new regional minister Barbara Follett to discuss the government's proposals.

Newly elected EERA chairman John Reynolds said: "It is hard to see how the shift of planning powers from a regional assembly with 70% elected councillors to a quango of government-appointed representatives with no local democratic mandate can improve accountability and buy-in from local communities.

"The assembly has been an important check on government in the region over the last eight years.

"It has been supportive of increasing the supply of homes, particularly affordable homes, but has not been afraid to challenge the government on big issues such as a second runway at Stansted and the lack of public funding to support house building."

A spokesman for EEDA said: "We are set up and appointed by elected politicians.

"With the new measures announced we are not only accountable to the 54 local authorities in the region but also to regional minister Barbara Follett MP, a parliamentary select committee and a House of Commons regional group."

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