A major academic study has been published on 2 July 2003 has found that all of the English regions could win a referendum on elected regional government. The study completed by Prof Charlie Jeffery, Director of the ESRC’s Devolution and Constitutional Change programme, analyses the responses to the Government’s soundings process conducted to assess the level of interest in holding referendums in the regions.
Speaking on behalf of the Campaign for the English Regions, Chair George Morran said: “This news is a terrific boost for the Campaign. The report finds that the majority of people that intend to vote in the three Northern referendums next year will vote yes. It also clearly demonstrates that the idea of taking more decisions in the regions and less in Whitehall has resonance in all the English regions, not just in the North. People, in the Midlands, the North and the South, want a vote on elected assemblies. This report puts a new question to the Government – when can we expect referendums in other regions?”
CFER note that the report reveals that the existing institutions in the regions are less enthusiastic for devolution than the general public. Commenting on this aspect of report George Morran commented “It is hardly surprising that those with a direct interest in the status quo are resistant to change – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!”
CFER will use the outcome of this research to press the government for a clear timetable for a second wave of referendums at least in the West Midlands and other interested regions by 2006.