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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 May, 2003, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Decision due on referendum
County Hall at Northallerton
An assembly could mean the end of North Yorkshire County Council
A decision is expected soon on whether people in Yorkshire are to be asked if they want their own parliament.

The government has been trying to gauge if there is enough interest in the idea of regional assemblies to call referendums in some of the English regions.

The closing date for the public and organisations to give their submissions was Friday 16 May.

About 500 responses were received from Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

Local government minister Nick Raysnford said: "This is an important issue.

Stewart Arnold
Stewart Arnold thinks the UK is over-centralised

"Elected regional assemblies will give people in the regions a distinct political voice and a real say over decisions that affect their area."

The new assemblies would be responsible for economic development and regeneration, planning, transport, housing and culture.

Backing for a referendum has already come from the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly which consists of the leaders of the region's 22 local authorities as well as representatives of other organisations.

Stewart Arnold, who chairs the Campaign for Yorkshire, said he was "reasonably confident" there will be a referendum.

Public meeting

He continued: "I was at a public meeting in Hull and the people there voted almost precisely two to one in favour of a referendum.

"The evidence is that the UK is a very over-centralised country in terms of delivering public services and delivering competitiveness.

"It is quite clear the evidence is that much more needs to be done at a regional level."

If a Yorkshire parliament was established it would have particular impact in North Yorkshire.

Largest employer

The county would have to switch from a two-tier system of local government to the unitary system that operates in the rest of Yorkshire and the Humber.

This could mean the end of North Yorkshire County Council which was established in 1974 and is based in Northallerton.

The county council employs 20,000 people making it the largest employer in North Yorkshire.

Any referendum would include a special question just for North Yorkshire voters on how their local government should be reorganised.

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14 Nov 02  |  Politics

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