Priorities for 2004
"to influence proposed legislation
on regional assemblies"
The AGM of 2003 set a number of priorites to be adrressed
this year. They include:
- Finalising the Our Region-Our Choice - Making a Difference
report by end of May 2003.
- Influencing the content of the legislation about the powers
and constitution of elected Regional Assemblies due for publication
in draft in Jun/July in advance of the referendums in the three
- Establishing Campaign for a Referendum in 2006 about establishing
an elected Regional Assembly
Directors were re-elected as follows:
For 1 year - Sue Davis, Les Lawrence, William Lawrence,
John Mawson and Sam Margrave.
For 2 years - Phil Davis, Colin Beardwood, Paul Tilsey,
John Cooper, Felicity Norman and John Cooper for 2 years.
Phil Davis was appointed Chairman.
More about WMCC
New Research Commissioned
"the engagement of women
in regional government, rural affairs"
Two new research projects have recently been commisioned by
WMCC. The first of these will take the form of action research
and will look into the role of Women in Regional Government.
The second is concerned with devolution and rural affairs
following on from the recent Haskins Report.
Northern Review of Sustainable Communities
"a similar Midlands study
RDA's in the three northern regions are to lead a review of
how Government activity can be better co-ordinated to deliver
Sustainable Communities Plan. A similar Midlands study
is proposed for later in the year.
The Northern study will concentrate on three areas:
- Analysis of the print activities of bodies such as regional
housing boards and regional economic strategies
- Examination of how individual projects and strategies could
be linked across urban regeneration companies and housing market
- Identification of actions to be taken.
WM Labour Conference to follow
"a major conference to decide
policy on West Midlands devolution"
It now seems likely a major conference may take place in autumn
2004 to decide what is to be the policy of the Labour Party in
the Region about the establishment of a directly elected West
Midlands Regional Assembly. This will follow the referendums
in the northern regions.
Transport Regionalisation Review Announced
"to consider how we can devolve
more decisions on public transport "
A major review of transport policy is expected to "open
the door for rail regionalisation.... and consider how to devolve
more decisions on public transport". WMCC's view is
that "The statement is a little ambiguous and falls short
of the stronger references to regionalisation than the media
had trailered in advance of the statement"
Haskin's Report Welcomed
"Rural delivery recommendations
could boost regional powers"
The Haskin's report on rural delivery recommends that the
current regional social and economic responsibilities of the
Countryside Agency are transferred to the Regional Development
Agencies (RDAs). The RDAs are set to become the cornerstone function
of the new elected assemblies.
Rural Needs Report Backs Local Democracy
"stronger local and regional
government is needed to meet rural needs."
A Countryside Agency Board visit to study proposed changes
in local and regional government in the North East has concluded
that rural needs will be better served with greater local government
'capacity', including parish councils, and greater capacity within
the voluntary and community sectors and also within the North
East Regional Rural Affairs Forum.
Consultation on Campaign Spending Limits
"permitted participants in
all regions should have their expenditure uniformly capped at
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has recently
published a consultation document - 'Registration and spending
limits for those wishing to campaign in referendums'
The document argues that,' In UK referendums, the spending
limit for other permitted participants (i.e. those who are not
registered political parties) is approximately a tenth of the
limit for designated organisations. As varying the limit between
regions could cause confusion, we recommend that permitted participants
in all regions should have their expenditure uniformly capped
Campaigning Gets Under Way in North
"YES and NO Campaigns are
Campaigning for and against the establishment of elected regional
Assemblies is now well underway in the North East, Yorkshire
and Humber and the North West. YES and NO Campaigns are running
and ODPM is engaged on a number of fronts to raise public awareness
of the issues.
Four Regions to Pilot All-Postal
Voting in June Elections
"Scope of experiment extended
Government Plans to use the local and European elections to
pilot all-postal voting have been scrapped following a defeat
of the Government's proposals in the House of Lords. All-postal
voting will be the basis of the referendums to be held in the
autumn about the establishment of elected regional assemblies
in the three northern regions, but they will not now have the
benefit of experience which could have been drawn from the pilots.
Referenda for three Northern Regions
"the West Midlands will learn
from first wave regions ..we will be pressing to be in the next
wave of devolution."
Three northern regions are to hold referenda with a
view to establishing elected assemblies. The announcement represents
"a big victory over the cynics at the centre who have
fought to keep decision-making out of the hands of the regions"
according to Colin Beardwood, chair of the WMCC who
added that he is looking forward to taking the same question
to the people of the West Midlands in the next round of referenda
"there is now a real prospect of a our own region holding
a referendum as early as 2006".
Devolution Prospectus Agreed
"a radical change in the
way the West Midlands is governed"
WMCC will publish proposals for devolved democratically Regional
Government for the West Midlands later this year.
A draft devolution prospectus for the West Midlands was agreed
by a meeting of Convention supporters on the 5th July. The draft
will be published in the autumn when views will be sought from
all the Regions existing public insitutions, elected representatives,
other regional interest and most importantly the public.
A Convention spokesperson said, "We propose a radical
change in the way the West Midlands is governed as a means of
democratising growing regionalisation and more effective way
of delivering what the region needs in terms of sustainable development,
employment, investment. The package will contribute to building
a new more vibrant and inclusive politics in which all parts
of the region and all the region's population would have a part
to play. Central to the new approach will be a greater emphasis
on bringing decision making and economic activity to the local
level. It is much mor than just establishing an elected Regional
Assembly although such a move is seen to be central to shifting
power from Westminster and Whitehall.
If you wish to be consulted about WMCC proposals
please contact Debbie
Community Ambassadors Sought
"to help us keep up to date
about the interests and needs of the people of West Midlands
WMCC wishes to engage with all parts of the West Midlands
Region and particularly to be aware of the interests and needs
of its population. This policy is aimed at informing the Convention's
proposals and campaigning in support of them.
We wish to appoint/designate individuals Convention ambassadors
with special responsibilities. These can include a political
party, business, local government, the voluntary and community
sector, young people, women, black ethnic minorities, or a part
of the region or some other some other interest.
Contact us about becoming a Community Ambassador
by filling in the form at the foot of this
The English Regions Debate: What do
the English Want?
"majority would vote 'yes'
in a referendum "
A new report has concluded that there is a high level of public
support in the West Midlands and all the other English regions
in holding referendums on the establishment of elected regional
government .It has also concluded that there would be a majoritory
in the West Midlands and all the other regions for the establishment
of such assemblies.
Government Appointments to Quangos favour
"A number of departments
could not provide information and do not consider this to be
an important issue"
The response to questions posed in parliament asked by Joyce
Quinn MP have confirmed that (where the information is available)
appointments to Government Quangos continue to be dominated by
individuals resident in the South East and London. A number of
departments could not provide the information and do not consider
this to be an important issue.
Commenting on the responses a Convention spokesperson said
"the West Midlands is clearly underrepresented in its
own Government across a wide range of domestic public policy.
It continues to be a matter of considerable concern that information
about the individual members of quangos, including their places
of residence, remuneration, is not in the public domaine. The
absence of such information can only undermine public confidence
in these bodies and strengthen the case for them all to be made
more democratically accountable to the people of the region"
For further information see Hansard, March
Commons Support for Elected Regional
"wealth gap is growing"
The economy of the West Midlands Region has consistently grown
less than the average for the UK, and significantly less than
the London, South East and Eastern Regions, says a Committee
The Committee says 'the West Midlands, the three northern
regions and the South West are not fulfilling their potential,
experiencing reduced life chances, higher unemploymnet, ill health
and lower productivity than is socially justifiable and economically
This state of affairs is at odds with the Government's aim
of maximum growth for all the regions and reducing the gap between
West Midlands is near bottom of House
of Lords League
"second chamber is dominated
by South East"
The Campaign for the English Regions (CFER) has published
new research demonstrating the weakness of the West Midlands
voice in the House of Lords.
In the first exercise of its kind, the Regional Map of the
House of Lords proves what has long been presumed that London
and the South East hugely dominate the second Chamber at the
expense of much of England
Regional Assembly Withdraws Referendum
"more work is necessary to
engage public support for an elected body"
The existing West Midlands Regional Assembly is not calling
for a referendum to be held to test public support in the region
for the establishment of a directly elected Regional Assembly.
The Assembly has told the Government that 'While media
interest is growing and opinion research suggests there is concern
in Whitehall, more work is necessary to engage wider public interest
in the devolution agenda.'
Local Labour Party Confirms Support
for Elected Assembly
"public campaign to engage
support to will be considered"
The West Midlands Labour Party has confirmed that in principle
it supports the establishment of an elected regional assembly
for the West Midlands.
At a Regional Conference in Malvern at the beginning of March
it was agreed that the Party's Regional Board will seek the views
of Party members and through a further regional conference in
2004 and 2005 move towards initiating a wider public campaign
in support of holding a referendum on the question of regional
Meanwhile the establishment of directly elected assemblies
for the Midlands regions has been supported by a meeting of delegates
to the Midlands TUC. The delegate conference called for the assemblies
to be given wide ranging powers to make a real difference in
both regions Delegates also called for the Assemblies to build
on the established arrangements for involving Trade Union representatives
to a greater extent than existed at present.
Significant Policy Disparities in
UK Health Systems
"...English patients will
be going to Boots operated clinics ... and Welsh patients will
be treated at ones run jointly by LAs and the NHS"
The four health systems in the UK are moving in markedly
different directions according to a comprehensive review of devolution
in the UK. Envisaging English patients going to Boots operated
clinics in 10 years and Welsh patients being treated as ones
run jointly by local governments and the NHS, Scott Greer of
the Constitution Unit, an independent think tank says ' the choice
of each system is the product of real political differences,
which have been taken for England, and the rest of the UK.'
Wording of Referendum Criticised
"90 word preamble is too
Controversy has arisen over the proposed wording for referendum
ballot papers. The question, "Should there be an elected
assembly for the (insert name of region) region?" Is
to be preceded by a ninety-word preamble. This follows the Electoral
Commission's Referendum Question Assessment Guidelines which
suggest the addition of such a preamble where "the referendum
issue is a complex or unfamiliar one
rather than have a
The Campaign for the English Regions CFER insist that this
distinction between question and preamble is largely spurious
and claim that "voters will have to read this preamble
Transport Specialists Back Beefed-up Assembly
"condemnation of existing arrangements"
Leading Transport specialists from across the West Midlands
have concluded that the region's pressing transport needs will
only be met if an elected West Midlands Regional Assembly is
given the powers to deliver as well as plan transport.
Report Urges Open Government
"a new kind of representative body...more
open to citizens and regional stakeholders than local councils"
A new report report Regional Assembly for all the West
Midlands, concludes that an elected Regional Assembly
for the region needs to be a different kind of body than local
councils and Westminster. It needs to be more open to citizens
and regional stakeholders and interest groups-it has to be more
inclusive of different interests.
A Seminar is being held at the Orange Studio in Birmingham
at 11.00am on the 22nd November to consider the report and the
implications for a devolution settlement for the West Midlands.
The event is being jointly organised by the Convention the West
Midlands Governance Research Group and the existing West
Midlands Regional Assembly.
New Study to find solutions to economic
"it will address the serious
economic disparities which are grouwing across the UK"
The Institute of Public Policy and Research has announced
it is to host a project on regional economic policy that will
help address the serious economic disparities which are grouwing
across the UK.Welcoming the intitiative George Morran,WMCC Project
Director said "this initiative can make an important
contribution to national economic policy and the important contribution
of devolved ,democratically accountable regional government".
Download the report in .doc format
Devolution for England: What they say
"Government Ministers (and
others) speak out in support"
"We will see the biggest ever
shift in Britain from the 'old Whitehall knows best' culture
to a Britain of not one but many centres of initiative and decision-making
Gordon Brown, Wolverhampton Febriary 2003
"Devolution in Wales is just
one part of a much wider programme of constitutional reform designed
to move us away from a centralised Britain to a more democratic,
decentralised, plural state"
Tony Blair Welsh Assembly
on 10th October 2001
"..we are entering an era in
which national government, instead of directing, enables powerful
regional and local initiatives to work"
Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer
"Too many aspects of regional
policy are designed centrally, and implemented by agencies and
divisions of central government departments"
John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, June
"Spain and Portugal witnessed
a devolution of power to regional and local level which could
explain the increased turnout [at elections]"
Stephen Byers, Secretary of
State for Transport Local Government and the Regions, November
A recent joint DTI / Treasury report, "Productivity in
the UK" notes the continuing economic inequalities between
the regions. The report concludes that a significant factor in
sustained regional inequalities is the lack of an effective institutional
framework at the regional level.
In 'Where Now for New Labour?' (Fabian Society) Professor
Anthony Giddens, director of the LSE and third way guru to Tony
Blair, sets out his support for regional government:
"Government Ministers (and
others) speak out in support"
Deputy Prime Minister,
Speech given at North East Regional Assembly, June 2001.
Download in .doc or .pdf
"Regional Governance: Dream
or a Nightmare for Local Democracy"
Conservative MP for Skipton,
Speech given at Annual Meeting of the St. Williams Foundation
in September 2001 and published in Viewpoints the Foundation's
Journal, Series 3 200/2001
Download in .doc
or .pdf format
Devolution in Practice: Public Policy Differences Within
Edited by John Adams and Peter Robinson (IPPR).
This book explores the public policy implications
of the devolved administrations, asks whether variations public
policy really matter and whether they should be welcomed or viewed
Women's Political Participation in the United Kingdom
by Meg Russell (The Constitution Unit,
A report looking at the background to women's
under-representation, women's representation in elected office
today, and women's participation in broader political activity.
For more details see: www.ucl.ac.uk/comstitution-unit/reports
England: The State of the Regions
Edited by John Tomaney and John Mawson (The
An authoritative volume bringing together
some of the country's leading experts to provide the first up-to-date
and comprehensive picture of the state of regionalism in England.
To order, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org For more
information you can visit: www.policypress.org.uk
"Just fill in the form to
find out how to become a WMCC Community Ambassador"
We are now urgently seeking volunteers to act as Ambassadors
for WMCC in all parts of the Region. We want to connect with
local communities, interest groups, local government, business
and other non governmental organisations as well as local media.
The Convention will pay reasonable expenses to those apponted
as its ambassadors.
Fill in the form below to arrange for an informal discussion
about your potential involvement as a Community Ambassador
Now click on the "Send"
If you prefer not to use the online form you can submit
the same information by phone, fax or post to the address given