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Majority Say 'Yes' To Referendum On Regional Assembly

At the request of the Government, South Tyneside Council has been participating in a public consultation exercise seeking the views of local people on the question of setting up an elected regional assembly.

People were asked whether or not they want a referendum to be held to establish the level of support for a regional assembly.

They were also asked to indicate what they think the level of interest is in holding a referendum.

The consultation has shown that a large majority of those surveyed do want to have a referendum, but they think that there is less interest in holding a referendum.

A total of 71 per cent of those consulted through the local Citizen's Panel said they want a referendum and 48% said they thought the level of interest in holding a referendum is strong or very strong.

Councillor Paul Waggott, Leader of the Council, said: "The outcome of the consultation exercise clearly shows that people are in favour of having a referendum about whether or not to have an elected regional assembly."

"The Council was not asked to seek views on whether or not they actually want an assembly. At this stage the information is being used to establish views on whether or not to hold a referendum."

The results of the survey of Councils across the region are being gathered by the North East Assembly and forwarded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The Government is in favour of establishing regional assemblies where people have voted for them in a referendum. Regional assemblies will not be forced on regions where people decide against.

Councillor Waggott said: "This is the very first stage in deciding which regions will have referendum about elected regional assemblies. The Council has no preferred option on regional government and this consultation will help us to form a view."

If the Government decides to hold a referendum in the North East it will take place during the life of the current Parliament. If agreed the first elected regional assembly could be up and running early in the next Parliament.

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