Devo-What? Is Democracy Being Denied?

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Devo-What? Is Democracy Being Denied?

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TeessideTogether – 16 November 2015

The Chairman of TeessideTogether has warned that ‘real democracy is being denied’ as plans for the area’s  Northern Powerhouse ‘devolution deal’ are moving ahead with no chance for local people to give their views—and a large number of the public not understanding what is involved.

Dave Roberts, who leads the organisation arguing for Teesside to be accepted as the clear identity for the area, was speaking after a poll commissioned by the BBC, showed 44 per cent of people questioned had never heard of the Northern Powerhouse and a further 20 per cent had no idea what it meant.

The TeessideTogether Chairman revealed that the lack of understanding—and demand to be properly consulted—had been underlined when he conducted his own on-street interviews which have been made available on the TeessideTogether website.

Durham County Council has announced that it will be conducting a postal ballot of its residents on the devolution proposals for its area and Mr Roberts has called for people in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton to have the same right.

He explained “As the poll commissioned for the BBC made crystal clear, whilst support for the basic concept of regional devolution is strong, the lack of understanding of what is actually on offer through the proposals negotiated by Government and the local councils is deeply worrying.

“It cannot be right that two out of every three people in the North know little or  nothing about the Northern Powerhouse and what it involves—and that, whilst in our neighbouring area the local authority believes people have a right to have their voice heard, our councils appear to be denying us that right.

“Implementing a deal which is to last for 30 years on the basis of leaving the public uninformed and uninvolved cannot be right.

“That is the reality of the situation demonstrated in the BBC poll and by my own experience when I went out on the streets with a TV camera to talk with local people. Some may have heard of the Northern Powerhouse and devolution, very few had a clear understanding of what is involved…but there was a clear message that they should be properly consulted.

“I hope that our local councils will carefully consider the findings of the BBC survey and accept that if democracy is good enough for the people of Durham, it should be good enough for Teesside.”

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