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Have Your Say On Regional Assembly

People living in South Tyneside are to be given the opportunity, along with other voters in the region, to have their say on whether the region should have its own directly elected regional assembly.

In February this year, the Council asked local people what they thought about the Government's proposals for establishing an elected regional assembly and if they wanted a referendum to decide. The majority of people were in favour of a referendum and this survey has influenced the Government's decision to proceed with a poll in the region next year.

Councillor John Temple, Deputy Leader of the Council says: "The Council's recent consultation has shown that local people are in favour of a referendum. The Government has taken these views on board and will be holding one next year. I urge the people of South Tyneside to participate in the debate on regional government and to use their vote in next year's referendum.

A regional assembly would impact on all of our lives. It would give the region greater control over its own affairs and would take control of a number of public agencies currently run by the Government from London. Its powers would make a difference in key areas such as jobs, transport, housing, culture and the environment."
The assembly would be made up of local people elected by the public for a four-year term. The Government has said that in the North East they envisage there would be about 25 assembly members covering the whole region. In Northumberland and Durham there would be a shake up of local government - however any shake up will not affect South Tyneside.

An assembly for the North East would control an annual budget of about £350 million of national and European grant programmes. It would also have a say in how a further £500 million of other Government money is spent.

The assembly would cost about £25 million a year to run - most of which would be paid for by the Government. However, local people would also be expected to contribute to the costs by paying extra Council Tax. For the average household the Government has said this could be about 5p extra per week.

Councillor Temple adds: "The Government has said it will undertake a major public information campaign to inform people of the specific proposals before they come to vote. In the meantime, local people can find out more by looking at South Tyneside Council's website at www.southtyneside.info which has links to all of the key Government documents published so far."


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