In between our local Communities and the UK State, it is important to be able to make decisions at a Regional level.
Every Community in the UK will select their own Region before 2019, and hold elections for their Regional Assemblies before the next General Election. The selection method and election process for the Regional Assemblies will be included in the Democracy and Freedom Bill 2015.
Regions are geographically contiguous areas that allow the Communities to pool resources for expensive services (like hospitals) and control shared resources (like water).
The UK has already devolved some power down to regional assemblies for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The regions of England will also be able to develop their own regions, and seems likely that five or more English Regions will emerge from this process.
Regions derive their responsibilities from what is promoted to them by their Communities. There are aspects of housing, education, transport, health & care and legal services that are already delivered more effectively on a regional basis than by each local community.
In the first instance, after the first Regional Assembly elections in 2019, each Region will inherit the responsibilities for service delivery that are already being delivered at a regional level; examples include NHS hospital services, policing, waste management and regional public transport. Thereafter, there will be a period in which responsibilities are reallocated between Communities and Regions to achieve the most effective mix of service delivery for their specific situations. The method of promotion and retrieval of responsibilities will be defined in the Democracy & Freedom Bill 2015, and any disputes adjudicated by the Sovereignty Court. It will require a majority of the Communities in a Region to agree to retrieve or promote a responsibility.
Not the same as 2004 Regional Referendum
When central government tries to insert an additional layer of bureaucracy with little real control or effect, of course it will be rejected. The 2004 proposal for regions were very different from what LIFE is proposing. LIFE proposes that regions are selected and defined by the Communities that want to self-associate into Regions, and that the responsibilities, powers and money for the Regions will be promoted to them by their constituent Communities. This is a bottom-up approach compared to the 2004 top-down approach.