Date set for regional assembly votes

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Referendums on whether to set up elected regional assemblies in the North of England are to take place on November 4, the Government announced today.

Referendums on whether to set up elected regional assemblies in the North of England are to take place on November 4, the Government announced today.

It means that voters in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber will - subject to Parliamentary approval - have the opportunity to say if regional government is right for them.

Minister for Local and Regional Government Nick Raynsford said: "People in the three northern regions now know that in November they should have a historic opportunity to change the way their region is governed.

"Following on from successful devolution in Scotland, Wales and London, it is now the time for the northern regions to have a say."

The options involved in the shake-up, to be put to voters in areas with two tiers of local government, were also set out in Orders laid before Parliament.

The Government said local government reorganisation in those areas of the North with more than one tier of local government was a necessary part of setting up elected assemblies.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said ministers have always maintained that more than one tier of government below the regional level would be too many and if an elected regional assembly and local government were to work together for the benefit of local people it was important that there was single tier local government throughout the region.

Voters in areas with two tiers of local government will be able to have a say on which option for a single tier system would work best for them.

Mr Raynsford added: "For the first time local people will be given a direct voice in a referendum on the structure of local government.

"Unlike previous local government re-organisations, which were imposed by central government, local communities will be given an opportunity to say which option they prefer on November 4."

The Government said that, after careful consideration, it is putting forward the reorganisation recommendations presented by the Boundary Committee on May 25.

The only exception is a minor modification to Option B for Cumbria and Lancashire so that the whole of Ormskirk is placed in the proposed local authority of Sefton and West Lancashire.

If the Orders are agreed by Parliament, the Government's Your Say information campaign will continue until September 10, four weeks before the ballot papers are sent out.

The Electoral Commission will shortly afterwards designate which Yes and No campaign organisations are entitled to grants and other benefits.

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