Dear Editor, Tom Wareing makes a number of good points about the need and opportunity to improve and reorganise the way government works in the West Midlands and other parts of England (Post, July 8). However, there is a need for more fundamental change if we are to strike a chord with the public and not just the political elite.
The recent Place survey has shown that less than 30 per cent of people believe they can influence decisions that affect them. We need local government to be much more local – it needs to relate to real communities with shared interests and an identity and not just size of population.
Why 500,000? Does this mean Birmingham is split into two or does it just fit the existing Worcestershire county? We already have in the West Midlands all-purpose unitary authorities with populations of less than 150,000 and, elsewhere, even smaller local authorities, each of whom is perfectly viable. We will only connect with peoples desire to have more control over their lives through a new constitutional settlement which moves power to the “local” and the “region”. Westminster and Whitehall need to be downsized and refocused on UK business. Everything else has to go the region and very local government.
Our government today is run by anonymous elected and non-elected representatives, quangos and other agencies of Whitehall. Regional issues need to be addressed by directly elected regional government with control over all the functions currently run by the quangos and more. All this has to be backed up by a much fairer voting system and a reduction in the power the main political parties wield over government.
Secretary, Campaign for the English Regions and the West Midlands Constitutional Convention,