TeessideTogether – 20 December 2015
DEVOLUTION POLL PRAISE—BUT COUNCILS ARE CHALLENGED TO ‘LET PEOPLE BE HEARD’
The Chairman of TeessideTogether has praised the decision of a local newspaper to give the public the opportunity to vote on the proposed Northern Powerhouse ‘devolution deal’ for the area and has renewed his call for local councils to ‘recognise that the people they serve have a right to be properly consulted and heard.’
Dave Roberts who leads the organisation arguing for Teesside to be accepted as the clear identity for the area, said it was ‘quite shocking’ that, whilst in many other parts of the North public consultations were taking place over the proposals which will last for the next 30 years, it seemed that no such arrangements were planned for people in the Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Stockton council areas.
Said Dave Roberts “The decision by the Northern Echo to launch a vote on the devolution deals is very welcome and I certainly hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity to give their views.
“It stands in stark contrast to the position which has apparently been adopted by our local authorities that they know best and that they are prepared to rubber stamp the proposals offered by the Government without giving people any right to be properly informed, let alone consulted, on what is involved…including the question of what is the best identity for our future.
“Yet literally over the border in County Durham the council is undertaking a full public vote and apparently elsewhere, for example in Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead and Northumberland, the authorities are holding public consultations.
“The question our local councils have to answer is why if democracy is OK for those areas, it is effectively being denied here on Teesside?
“As a recent opinion poll conducted by the BBC demonstrated, whilst the local councils may be aware of what the proposals involve, there is a deeply worrying lack of understanding amongst the public. I experienced that reality when TeessideTogether went out on the streets with a TV camera to talk with local people
“The authorities have a duty to make sure that people are both properly informed and heard…after all their lives will be affected by these proposals for decades to come.”