Regional government will take away local powers, says Tory Euro MP

Thursday 20th February 2003 12:00 am
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A SOUTH West Conservative Euro MP last Friday told the audience at a public meeting in Tavistock that the town could be governed from Bristol or Swindon if the government pushed forward with proposals to create elected regional assemblies.

Neil Parish MEP said the proposals would take decision-making power away from local people: ?England has enough politicians ? in West Devon you agree with this because you threw out the idea of an elected mayor not long ago.

?Yet the Liberal Democrats are working with the Labour Government in trying to create new elected regional assemblies across England, subject only to local referendums.?

Mr Parish, a Somerset farmer, claimed that under the proposals a regional council tax would have to be paid, and the cost of a regional assembly would be the same as another penny on income tax.

?Seven counties will be lumped together from the Isles of Scilly to Swindon. Devon as a county will disappear. Tewkesbury is in this region. Do you realise it is closer to the Scottish borders than it is to Land?s End? Residents of Tavistock would be governed from Bristol or Swindon,? he said.

Mr Parish warned public services would not be improved by the creation of more politicians a hundred miles away.

He said the Government had admitted more planning decisions would be made at a district regional level, whether or not a regional assembly was imposed.

Mr Parish concluded: ?Conservatives want community government not regional government. It would lead to a federal Britain in a federal Europe. If this government and their Liberal Democrat backers genuinely believed in giving more power to West Devon, they would be reducing government intervention in your borough council.

?The fact is such interference has soared under Labour ? at great cost to the council tax payer.?

Mr Parish was speaking at a public forum organised for business people by Tavistock Conservative Party. Principal guest was Geoffrey Cox, Tory parliamentary spokesman for West Devon and Torridge constituency. Chairman was Ian Jenkins, of Grenofen, and organiser of the forum was Peter Jones, of Tavistock.