Welwyn Hatfield MP hits out over quango spending

THE East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has been slammed for spending almost �9m on itself. Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said all nine of the UK s regional assemblies would be abolished if the Tories won the next General Election,

THE East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has been slammed for spending almost �9m on itself.

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said all nine of the UK's regional assemblies would be abolished if the Tories won the next General Election,

His vow follows publication of EERA's annual report that revealed �8.74m had been spent on its own administration costs.

"Regional assemblies not only cost too much, but they remove power from local people," the Welwyn Hatfield MP said.


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"At a time when personal resources are stretched thinly across the nation, the Government is placing unnecessary financial burdens on the taxpayers by continuing its addiction to these pointless quangos, and that's why we'll allow them to be scrapped."

Although the current Government has already promised to abolish regional assemblies by next year, Mr Shapps criticised the decision to give responsibility to the unelected, business-led regional development agencies.

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"(The Government) simply intends to hand the power to the equally unelected East of England Development Agency," Mr Shapps said. "We think this nonsense has to stop."

Under a Conservative administration, the millions of pounds that each assembly oversees would be re-directed to local authorities instead, Mr Shapps pledged.

EERA's chairman, Cambridgeshire county councillor John Reynolds, supported Mr Shapps' call to return power to local councils.

"I would hope that all the responsibilities are given back to the local authorities," he said. "They could spend that money far more effectively than the development agencies."

Based in Suffolk, EERA is comprised of councillors from the 52 local authorities across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

It is the statutory body for planning and housing across the region, and was behind the unpopular East of England Plan, which had sought to build 10,000 new homes in Times Territory by 2021 until a high court ruling in May ordered a rethink of the proposals.

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