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White Paper devolves regional decisions to assemblies

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REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES could take on some of central government's power to set transport, planning and environmental policy under new White Paper proposals published last week.

Plans launched by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, would see elected regional assemblies advising the government on transport funding to local authorities. This would ensure funding is in keeping with regional policies and priorities.

Your region, your choice: Revitalising the English regions would allow the assemblies to propose road and rail schemes of regional importance to the Highways Agency and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). They could also take over Rail Passenger Partnership grants from the SRA.

The assemblies would make appointments to the Environment Agency's regional committee. They would also be expected to play a key role in flood defence. Responsibility for this is currently under review by the Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs.

On planning, the assemblies would be expected to influence local authority development plans such as Local Transport Plans and ensure they have a 'regional context'.

INFOPLUS Your region, your choice: Revitalising the English regions is available at www. dtlr. gov. uk

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