Richard Mawdsley has written to the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald
"Sir.
Thanks to a reader, who pushed me in the right direction, I have made contact with the N. W. Regional Assembly. Their office is in Wigan, telephone number 01942 737916. To my surprise they have been up and running for FOUR years! Their fourth AGM and 'annual jolly' is to be at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 11th - 12th July. Their PR lady told me, ".... there is nothing secret about the Assemblies...". There are eight Cumbrian Councillors on the Assembly, two from the County Council and one from each of the District Councils. They've all been, and are being, very careful not to shout very loud. It would never do for the likes of thee an' me to learn too much would it? We only elect them.
On Friday I received an 'information pack' from Wigan. To give you an idea of the bulk, the postage cost £3.50. Wasted a large part of Sunday getting literary indigestion.....
The Government White Paper published on May 9th is hopefully entitled, "Your Region; Your Choice. Less bureaucracy, more democracy." That's a laugh. The bureaucracy will be ponderous, decision making slow and tortuous. Democracy doubtful; there's very little involved so far.
Imagine a piece of puff-pastry viewed from the side. One can see the layers, but try following them. They touch here and there, the spaces between full of air, but there is nothing clear cut. Nowhere in the Assembly and its barely legitimate offspring with appointed delegates, is there a point where one could say with conviction, "The buck stops here". So much for accountability.
Nowhere can I discover the levels of staffing, nor how the assemblies are funded. Is it Council, i.e. rate-payers money, Central Govt. i.e. taxpayers money, or does it come from elsewhere. Perhaps the District Auditor could tell us.
If anyone tells you, "....there's nothing to worry about, the Assembly has no real power, it's just a talking-shop.......", don't believe them. The infrastructure is being put in place that will render any future referendum almost superfluous."