A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness and spark debate about an elected regional assembly for Yorkshire and Humber was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

The `Your Say' campaign explains what regional government will mean to people in the area so voters can make an informed choice in the referendums expected to be held next autumn.

The campaign includes a new leaflet setting out what an elected regional assembly would mean for the region, a Your Say Yorkshire and the Humber website, and promotional material. Exhibitions and visits are planned over the next 12 months.

Mr Prescott said an elected regional assembly for the region would improve democracy, bring decision making closer to the people. It would give Yorkshire and the Humber a strong new voice, championing regional interests.

Launching the Your Say campaign in Yorkshire and the Humber while in York, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "People in Yorkshire and the Humber have a great opportunity to establish a new form of government that will bring choice, democracy and opportunity to their region. The campaign will ensure people are armed with the knowledge to choose whether they want this opportunity or not.

"I'm looking forward to taking part in the debate in all three northern regions over the coming year as part of our campaign. This is an historic time for people right across the Yorkshire and Humber region when voters will have the opportunity to establish elected, regional government for the first time."


What would it do? Take on responsibility from central government for jobs, housing, planning, transport, fire, health, culture, tourism and sport and also the environment.

Why change? The Government feels that at the moment power is split between too many different - mainly unelected - organisations, answerable to London. They want people in Yorkshire to have a more direct voice.

What would be its make-up?It would have between 30 and 35 elected members .

And based where? It would be the assembly's decision.

The cost? About £25m a year, met by a council tax amounting in the first year to 5p a week for band B and D properties worth between £45,000 and £58,000. The rest would be paid for by Government grant.

Who could stand for election? Anyone over 21 who lives in the region, subject to the usual rules.

How often would elections be held? Every four years.

When will it all happen? A referendum could take place next autumn. If voters say yes, elections would be soon afterwards.

So ... would it really make any difference? With a £570m budget, it's inevitable. Add on the control over homes, business development, transport and the environment and you have a very powerful body.

And the critics say? That it's more bureaucracy. That we already have bodies in place. That it is expensive and that no-one will turn out for the referendum (which will pose another headache for Mr Prescott)

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