Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) (RG 69)

  Few things, which have no past, have any future; and those things, which have a past, tend to repeat it. Aside from a few brilliant innovations, therefore, formulae of proven worth are best, and convincing reasons are needed for sweeping changes. In the case of regional government, however, no such reasons have been forthcoming.

  Rather, we have been asked to accept a glib slogan, or two ("bringing government closer to its citizens", "Your Region, Your Choice" etc) in lieu of reasoned explanations, and to ignore the fact that all the territories of the EU are being regionalised simply in order to provide a convenient nomenclature des unités territoriales et statistiques (NUTS) for administration from Brussels.

  The latest antecedents with any similarity to these jumped-up "regions" succumbed to the unification of England, under Edgar, in the ninth century. This was a step forward, which eventually precipitated the Union of the British Isles and the dissemination of the English language and of parliamentary democracy throughout the world.

  Since that great flowering, the destruction of the United Kingdom has been proceeding step-by-step, and has now, with the introduction of these painfully artificial "regions", reached the foundations of the state and even aroused disquiet among an otherwise apparently inattentive population.

  Your inquiry has not come soon enough, but it is all the more welcome for that.

  You have undertaken to examine matters, which include the following:

1.  . . . the potential for increasing the accountability of decision-making at the regional and sub-regional level, and the need to simplify existing arrangements;

2.  . . . the potential for devolution of powers from regional to local level;

  Accountability has suffered horribly from the imposition of the cabinet-system on local government and from the de-localisation of decision-making to remote "regional", national and supra-national centres.

  County-, and Town-, Halls are now so constrained by spatial and transport plans etc—issued by a regional executive, but derived, via the Regional Government Office and the ODPM, from the various "European Spatial Development Perspectives" (ESDP's) etc. of the Directorate General of the Regions (DG-REG) in Brussels—that they have almost no discretionary function at all. Thanks to the obscurantism of the cabinet-system, of the regional governorate, and of the ODPM—not to mention DG-REG—most councillors do not even know this. They would be very upset if they did know it. Hence, presumably, the systematic deception of the public, regarding the origin of today's regulations.

  The potential for increasing local accountability, and simplifying existing arrangements, lies quite patently in freeing councils from DG-REG/ODPM micro-management, restoring the committee-system, scrapping the bogus "regional assemblies" and thereby resuscitating the tradition of loyal, local government-service.

  Unfortunately, this cannot be done as long as HMG interprets the European Council Decisions of the 80's ("to co-ordinate regional development among member-states") and the Tampere agreement of 1999, as meaning that, throughout the EU, the same things have to happen, region-by-region, and, as far as possible, at the same time. On the other hand, it is impossible to see how else these scandalous agreements could be interpreted. The only antidote to them is their abrogation.

  The absurdity of the system now operating is well illustrated by the status of a small town's "extra" fire-engine. Permission to maintain it had to be sought directly from the ODPM. Meanwhile, the District's Planning Committee was struggling with applications made under the ESDP's "high-density, car-free, infill-housing" policy, which threatened to wipe out green spaces, treasured from time-immemorial.

  Both the abolition of the fire-engine, and the cramming-in of new housing, were said to be part of the "devolved, regional plan", but no plan more brutally centralised could be imagined. "Regions", and the ODPM itself, are no more than camouflage for an attempt at pan-continental uniformity and control, and all the "consultations" and "frameworks", which besiege councillors and electors alike, make no difference to that sinister fact.

3.  . . . the effectiveness of current arrangements for managing services at the various levels, and their inter-relationships;

  Lack of accountability can be accompanied by greater effectiveness in the delivery of services, if the delivery of services is actually the aim of the unaccountable administration. That is not the case here.

  The aim is the construction of a new, closely-controlled, social order, under a new, pseudo-democratic system of governance. Consequently, the services people want, and need, are only delivered, in good order, by accident. Indeed, many such services are being deliberately curtailed as part of this grandiose and spine-chilling scheme.

  Instead of efficient, weekly waste-collection and treatment, we now have didactic, fortnightly doorstep-sorting exercises, which have never functioned as advertised to provide any substantial, environmental benefit. Vast quantities of hand-sorted cullet are land-filled in South America, while vaster quantities of unsorted waste are shipped to China—all because of the EU-induced, artificially high cost of land-filling in Britain, where geological conditions are exceptionally (and "unfairly") favourable to it. Processing-plants are available to sort plastics, glass and metals from organics, on an industrial scale. Why do we have none? Why do we not even have power-plants (an excellent, British invention) which convert organics to plasma without incineration? Why is road-maintenance and construction seven years, and rising, behind schedule—and this is not due just to the EU-obligatory tax on road-stone—while ever more transport is being forced on to Britain's roads?

  Further examples could be given of services, which are not being delivered. Many of those, which are being "delivered" are not wanted, or needed. These are the counselling, advice, monitoring and enforcement "services", performing social engineering in every identifiable, civil sector, according to a concept of equality, which discriminates against certain groups, on precisely the grounds, upon which discrimination is outlawed. This is called "positive discrimination", if you please! Good law has been destroyed, and—as with the environmentalists' "precautionary principle"—there is no firm basis to what is being put in its place. Class-rights are being substituted for individual rights. "Government" can make up whatever it likes—about "global warming", or who needs to be discriminated against next—thereby, creating a culture of bewilderment and compliant fear.

  The "new governance", which, at ever spiralling cost, is failing to provide the services people need, and forcing others down people's throats, is a miasma of semi-governmental partnerships and agencies strung between the local and "regional" level. Their accounts, when they have any, are not open to scrutiny, and they are frequently impossible to track down. A councillor, who turns up for the monthly "full council", and has nothing else to do, except write to the local press, can only take a full part, and find out what is going on, by convincing the stake-holders, in this "supra-municipal" system, that he can be relied on to take the money and toe the line.

  For those who have eyes to see, the current situation is a nauseating spectacle of bland public-relations exercises and arbitrary decisions taken in camera, and it is rapidly getting worse. The so-called "Standards Board for England" is now being evoked in spurious attacks against dissident councillors, and political audits, disguised as efficiency inspections, are being used against "rogue" councils. What is occurring is nothing short of a coup d'état.

4.  . . . the potential for new arrangements, particularly the establishment of city regions;

  The establishment of "city-regions" is no newer an idea than the regionalisation, under which we now groan. It was part of the original concept formulated by the prototypical "European Council of Municipalities and Regions", before the Treaty of Rome was signed, and is now being dusted off, as regionalisation flags.

  The plan has long been discussed, at the EU-Commission, as "le scénario de l'Europe des mille fleurs" [from "Cinq Scénarios de L'Avenir de L'Europe", a secret report—by the Commission President's "Cellule de Prospective"—which was partly revealed to a conference of the Commission's "Soul for Europe Project", in 2001].

  The idea—in a remarkable echo of Lenin—was that, once "the European Union of the Regions and Cities" [emphasis added] was established, the state (ie the centralised EU-state) would wither away. Unlike Lenin, however, the "Cellule de Prospective" foresaw a subsequent outbreak of civil strife, which would allow central authority to re-establish itself, through draconian measures, and create an entirely new civil order, virtually from scratch, with "national-service" (ie EU-service) in civil occupations, strict rules governing personal ownership etc. Interesting too was that the three, "most favourable" scenarios, of the five, all featured a strong element of civil strife.

  Under the present system, there has long been tension (on a much lesser scale than civil strife) between the "principal urban centres", which were not chosen as "regional capitals", and the "regional capitals" themselves, and some of the impetus for the current initiative probably comes from that. Bristol, for example—or the upper-crust thereof—finds itself a little too far removed from the privileges being accumulated in Exeter, and there were some very acrimonious exchanges, on this account, behind the scenes of regionalist pressure-groups, like the "South West Constitutional Convention". Thus, it is probably partly to keep the local prominenti on board that the first EU-conference on "city-regions" was held in Bristol on 5 and 6 December.

  More cogent, however, is the EU's need to transfer structural funds to the 10 states, which joined the EU in 2004. It is no longer possible to fund the existing "regions", as before. Regions have now been set up in Central Europe, and much of the money has to go to them. They joined on that understanding. Consequently, much of Western Europe will find itself several wagons short of the gravy-train, which it is paying for and has come to expect.

  The problem then, is "how to keep regionalisation going, in the West, on the cheap?" and the answer seems to be "to concentrate what funds remain (the `cohesion funds') on the principal urban centres"—which most people are connected to, in some way—and, hey presto, "Beau Geste" defends the fortress, all on his own, running from one embrasure to another, firing a shot from each!

  These two reasons are essentially the same. The plan is intended to take care of the urban aristocracy, and of the urban plebs, and hope that the country-bumpkins will stay "fell-in" behind; but "what potential for new arrangements," you ask, do "city-regions" offer?

  Well, not much. They are being proposed as a stop-gap, until the EU can get its claws on the national taxes of the member-governments—or, that is, until the member-governments feel confident of wrenching those taxes entirely to the EU's purposes. Let us not forget that the EU is, above all, its member-governments, even if the Commission does, on a year-by-year basis, run everything.

  Once in possession of 5% of GDP, the EU will have all the money it needs to rule Europe with a rod of iron. No more stop-gaps then.

5.  the impact which new regional and sub-regional arrangements, such as the city regions, might have upon peripheral towns and cities;

  The general impact of the new regional, and sub-regional, arrangements is likely to be as already experienced—remote, centralist, arbitrary, divisive, hypocritical and intensely unpopular—"city-regions", or no "city-regions".

  Peripheral communities, in particular, have—and will continue to—become more isolated from the country as a whole, more disparate in their standards of living and more dependent upon artificial bias in the Barnett Formula. They will continue to become selectively de-populated, with large tracts of derelict housing, and selectively over-crowded, with house-prices beyond the reach of local people.

  There is no substitute for genuine, local self-determination and national support for essential industries and infrastructure, neither of which EU-regionalist bureaucracy does, can, or is intended to, provide.

  "City-regions" will merely make matters worse, by further fracturing national co-ordination, duplicating functions and creating fiefdoms.

  The sole, and admittedly immense, success of regionalism, has been "to avoid the unpopularity [ie—obscure the un-democratic reality—] of government by a remote bureaucracy in Brussels". These are the exact words of the FCO/Cabinet briefing-paper, released, under the 30-year rule, in 2001, which explained to ministers, in 1974, why regionalism had to be encouraged.

  It was the only sane—if secret, treacherous and criminal—reason ever put forward for creating the hideous travesty of democratic government, which now disgraces our islands.

6.  the desirability of closer inter-regional co-operation (as in the Northern Way) to tackle economic disparities

  It's breathtaking—having carved up the country into dysfunctional lumps (thus exacerbating economic disparities) "HMG" now suggests cobbling some of the bits together again, in a different order—in order "to tackle economic disparities"!

  It appears to be unaware that joining odd scraps of a corpse do not bring it back to life. In fact, it knows this all too well. As with the proliferation of QUANGO's, which "elected regional assemblies" were supposed to save us from, so here also we see problem tailored to solution—the insane ratchet of error generating error, hypocritical, beneficial crises and the wanton throwing of good money after bad—all because, in the minds of those who hold sway, national democracy must be destroyed, and global technocracy—briefly preceded by pan-continental bureaucracy—must take over.

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