Judicial Review Papers Lodged : The
North East voters must be told the truth about what is really on
The papers were lodged at the Royal
Courts of Justice at 3.11pm on Friday 24th September calling for a Judicial
Review of the Government's decision not to correct the misleading and factually
incorrect statements in the 'Have Your Say' leaflet which went out to 1,900,000
Full story click
North East No
10 am 24th
High Court Writ
to be Served on Deputy Prime Minister by No Campaign
Following the notice
served on the Rt. Hon Nick Raynsford yesterday and the failure of the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister to take any positive action to correct the factually
incorrect leaflet 'Have Your Say' for all 1,900,000 voters in the North East
Referendum, the North East No Campaign has been left with no choice but to
launch an action in the High Court today.
prepared an application in the public interest for an emergency Injunction
with papers to be lodged today at the Royal Courts of Justice. A writ will be
served on John Prescott's Office of the Deputy Prime
objection requesting a full correction of the leaflet have been ignored by the
ODPM, the Audit Commission and the Electoral Commission, leaving the No Campaign
with no choice but to take this drastic and high profile step. The urgency is
due to the fact that a partial correction is due to go out to only
220,000 households in the North East on Monday 27th September, yet the
errors affect all 1,900,000 voters.
Lawyers at Cherie Blair's former chambers, 4-5 Grays Inn
Square, Grays Inn, yesterday put Rt Hon Nick Raynsford
on notice that the No Campaign would be taking this action. To see the copy of
the notice click
The No Campaign's
lawyers received a fax last night at 5.15pm from the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister requesting more time, and they have lawyers working on a
papers will be lodged by Neil Herron and Colin Moran of the North East
No Campaign along with their legal representatives at 2pm today at the
Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London (bringing back memories of the
Metric Martyrs Case and ironically this time the people putting the Government
before the courts rather than vice versa).
Herron states, " We have given the Deputy Prime Minister repeated
opportunities to address the factually incorrect statement which gives
the impression that people will be elected under proportional
representation. Also, the partial correction addressing the incorrect cost
figure for local government reorganisation has been admitted BUT there needs to
be a correction for everyone who received the leaflet, not just County Durham.
The people across the whole of the North East cannot be expected to vote on
the North East's future based on a misleading document. We do not wish to
jeopardise the referendum, but a decision affecting ours and our children's
future cannot be made without everyone having the correct
Moran states, " The clock is ticking and we are aware that their lawyers
are urgently working on a response to attempt to avoid court action. We
hope that respect for the North East public's right to be informed and that a
common sense solution would be in the best interests of
North East No
Tel. 0191 565
Mob. 07802 448
Tilbrook's, Quires Green,
Willingale, Ongar, Essex CM5 0QP
Tel: 01277 896000 Fax: 01277 896050
London WC1R 5AH
- 7670 1530 (direct)
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speculation please visit
Rest of the stories in
Newcastle Evening Chronicle
Why they say NO
Sep 23 2004
By Peter Young,
The Evening Chronicle
A poster campaign aimed at persuading
people to vote against a North East Assembly was launched today.
will be appearing on billboards at between 25 and 50 sites across the region in
the run-up to the referendum on November 4.
Meanwhile, leaders of the
North East Says No campaign challenged Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to
provide every voter with copies of the Government's draft Assemblies
They say this will enable voters to see for themselves what is
proposed and cut through the arguments over whether people are being
The key arguments of the business-led No campaign are that an
assembly will lead to higher council taxes, will not give more power to local
people and will create more professional politicians.
Leaders were in
Durham today to officially launch their campaign with the slogan "Politicians
talk. We pay".
Papers for the all-postal referendum will start going out
to voters on October 18.
The No campaign has a council of around 100 members,
mainly from business, and the coalition also includes teachers, doctors,
academics and farmers.
Its plan is to mail every voter and business and
target teachers and doctors.
Any assembly is expected to be based in
Durham, with 25 elected members representing people across Tyne & Wear,
Northumberland, County Durham and Teesside. A tier of local government in
Northumberland and County Durham would be axed.
Businessman John Elliott,
chairman of manufacturers Ebac and chairman of North East Says No, said: "The
Yes campaign are trying to claim that creating 25 extra professional politicians
will give local people more power.
"That's obviously not true and it will
just lead to higher council tax. We will be getting this message across with
posters, billboards, leaflets and public meetings.
"I am confident that
when people realise what's on offer in this referendum they will vote
Ian Dormer, director of Rosh Engineering in Newcastle, said: "A regional
assembly will not give local people more control and London will still stay in
control over the things that really matter like jobs, health and
"All an assembly will do is create more professional
politicians and lead to higher council tax. It will just be politics as usual
for the North East."
Supporters say an elected North East Assembly would have the
power to improve the lives of people across the region.
They say an
assembly would enable decisions to be taken by elected representatives in the
North East rather than by civil servants 280 miles away in
Prof John Tomaney, chairman of the Yes campaign, said it would
have wide-ranging powers on jobs, transport, skills, housing, planning and
"It will have responsibility for setting the budget of the
regional development agency, providing funding, approving its strategy and
appointing its chair and board members," he said.
"An assembly would have
considerable freedom to allocate funds according to regional
LETTER IN NEWCASTLE
22nd September 2004
Assembly will undermine local government
As a recently elected
member of the London Assembly, I strongly urge thevoters of the North East to
vote No to a similar body in the North East.
The setting up of regional
assemblies is a deliberate fraud, designed togive the impression that decisions
will be taken closer to them, when infact the whole thing is an exercise in
weakening local control andgiving more power to central and Brussels
The Mayor andAssembly in London is a body which administers
large budgets and whichsimply carries out orders from afar. We are effectively
elected civilservants with limited scrutiny powers and no power over
legislation.On everything from Congestion Charging to the micro detail of local
policy, we depend upon Brussels or Westminster diktat. We have just lost our
traditional London buses because of a Brussels ruling.
If you do vote
Yes, you will not be voting for local decision making. You will be voting to
strengthen centralised decision making in London and Brussels,with a team of 25
ineffective politicised local scrutineers runningalong in the wake with neither
the resources nor the will to effectivelychallenge threats to local
interests.That is no substitute for effective local government.
foundation stone at London's City Hall which I pass every day bears the
inscription"home of London Government". Some "Government". I call it the
BlarneyStone, but I am not tempted to kiss it.
UK Independence Party Group London
Tel 020 7983 4883
What price information? What price
£1m Assembly bill demand
Sep 23 2004
Ross Smith And Daniel Cochlin, The Journal
The group fighting
against a North-East regional assembly has called on John Prescott to spend £1m
of public money sending the draft bill to every voter in the region.
read the full story click here (worth it for the
picture of Prescott)
Lib Dems Say Government "Fumbled" and
Lib Dems urged to push for regional assemblies
Hélène Mulholland in
Wednesday September 22, 2004
government has "fumbled" and "stuttered" over its campaign for regional
government, Lib Dem local government spokesman, Ed Davey, said
Speaking on the fourth day of the Liberal Democrat annual
conference, Mr Davey said his party should seize the opportunity to rescue the
"yes" campaign "to show it's about trusting the people of the north east, not
Boasting of their recent electoral success in the
north-east local authority bastion of Newcastle, where the Liberal Democrats
wrested the council leadership from Labour after a 30-year tenure, Mr Davey told
conference that an elected regional government was the only way to eliminate the
170 unelected quangos choking the north-east.
"A 'yes' vote is the only
way to start to sweep aside this and put people in charge," he said. "But once
again, New Labour stuttered when they needed to be bold, allowing John Prescott
to fumble the case for regional democracy. But we must still win that
Mr Davey also seized the opportunity to reframe his commitment to
axing the property-based council tax and replacing it with a local income tax,
as a Liberal Democrat "tax cut".
"We believe tax is necessary, and when it's
necessary, it must be fair," he said. "This will be a major tax cut - delivered
by Liberal Democrats.
A tax cut for families on modest incomes, a tax cut
for pensioners, and for the majority of households. Our plans mean nearly nine
out of 10 pensioners will gain - over half will end up paying no local tax at
Northern Echo 23rd September...
Councils take Legal Advice
Legal action on assembly leaflet
against the proposed elected North-East Assembly will file papers in London's
High Court tomorrow calling for a judicial review of a controversial Government
The North-East No campaign, led by former Metric
Martyr Neil Herron, is embarking on legal action over the Your Say leaflet,
which was issued by the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) to the 1.9
million people in the region eligible to vote in November's
The Government admitted the controversial leaflet contained a
factual error over the relative costs of local government reorganisation in
County Durham if the region votes in favour of an assembly.
It agreed to
spend more than £100,000 sending clarification notices to all the 220,000
households in the county.
However, the North-East No campaign said the
correction should be sent to everyone who received the original leaflet, at a
cost expected to be almost £1m.
The release of government information has
emerged as an increasingly contentious issue in the referendum campaign over the
past few days.
Earlier this week, North East Says No -the official
opposition to the referendum -lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission
over the wording of the preamble to appear on the ballot paper, while Durham
County Council was recently advised by the ODPM to remove its logo from its
North East No is seeking clarification of the date for the
beginning of purdah -the period leading up to an election in which government
groups are prevented from issuing information that could be viewed as supporting
one side or another.
The Government's position is that purdah will begin
on October 7, four weeks before the vote is declared, but Mr Herron is arguing
that the purdah should already be under way because it is less than four weeks
until the ballot papers are issued.
The increasingly tense atmosphere in
which the referendum campaign is being conducted was highlighted yesterday, when
the Association of North-East Councils, the group that represents the region's
25 councils, postponed the release of an anticipated statement on the proposed
location of the assembly.
In July, 13 of the association's members called
for the assembly to be based in Durham City, and a statement outlining the views
of the entire membership was expected to emerge when the group met yesterday in
Newcastle Civic Centre.
However, chairman Councillor Bob Gibson, the
leader of Stockton Borough Council, said that in light of the complaint being
lodged by Mr Herron, the release of the statement was to be postponed until the
association could take further legal advice.
Regional Organisers Letters
Government has made misleading statements over
— The Government has made misleading
statements in its ‘Have Your Say’ leaflet, delivered to every household in the
north east prior to the referendum on a regional assembly.
it says that there will be around 25 elected members — ‘they would be elected —
as in Scotland, Wales and London — by a system of proportional representation to
help prevent domination by a single party and to help ensure a balance of
Sounds fine, but an examination of the actual Bill shows that
the picture is very different. There will in fact be ‘constituency members’ and
‘regional members’ and all the constituency members will be elected on the
‘first past the post’ system, by simple majority. “The constituency members will
make up the majority”.
In other words, the same old party domination will
be very evident. If any independent does try to stand for election he or she is
going to face an uphill struggle unless he or she is very wealthy. How, for
example, could an individual canvas or leaflet 1.9 million voters and have any
hope of being elected as a regional representative under PR?
So much for the
North East No Campaign,
Co-ordinator. via e-mail.
Sunderland Echo News 23rd September
'North East can make it
LABOUR party boss Ian McCartney has urged voters to
say Yes in the North East assembly referendum.
was visiting Sunderland to meet city councillors in the run-up to the big
vote.Mr McCartney, party chairman, was also following up a promise to visit the
city again after he met councillors in the run-up to this year's local and
He was speaking as Liberal Democrat leader Charles
Kennedy announced he was in favour of an assembly while UKIP Euro MEP Robert
Kilroy-Silk said it should be a No vote.
Wearing a Yes campaign badge on
his suit lapel, Mr McCartney said the referendum was a chance for people to have
a greater say in shaping the future of the North East.He is MP for the North
West constituency of Makerfield and said he was "disappointed" when plans there
for a referendum were pulled earlier this year.He said: "The assemblies are
about sticking up for ourselves, making things happen, giving regions a stronger
voice and having more confidence in ourselves."
Mr McCartney remained
confident, however, that referendums would go ahead in the North West and in
Yorkshire and Humberside.The idea behind a North East assembly of 25 members,
that could be based in Durham, is to give it spending and planning powers in
areas such as transport, economic development and public health which are
currently held by civil servants.
No campaigners believe, though, that it
will be a "talking shop" with no real power and add another layer of Government
to the North East.
Mr McCartney said: "Assembly powers are coming from
central Government, not local government and are a chance for the region to
speak up for itself."We are always being told by the No campaign that an
assembly will not influence Government. That message breeds cynicism and
despair. The Yes message is a positive campaign about having pride in
communities."There's £1billion spent every year by Government departments here
in the region, or on behalf of the region, but when the No campaign says we
don't want, or have to have regional government, we already have it and this is
about making it more accountable."I am confident the North East can make it
Voters are getting ballot packs in the middle of next month and
the referendum result is expected to be announced at midnight on Thursday,
Assembly leaflet misleading, says
NORTH East No campaigners were holding last-minute talks with
lawyers before lodging a judicial review at the High Court tomorrow.
Herron, campaign spokesman, said "misleading information" had been put out by
the Government in the run up to the referendum.
He said the Government
was already writing to voters in County Durham correcting a mistake over the
cost of local reorganisation and it should do the same for the rest of the North
There were also other questions and differences in the Your Say
leaflet and the assembly that was published in July. This was over future rules
and how members might be elected.
Mr Herron added: "We want to make it
abundantly clear that we wish the referendum to go ahead. "It is not our
intention to force a postponement."
A spokeswoman from the ODPM said the
Durham information was being corrected with a separate mailshot to voters and it
stood by the rest of the Your Say leaflet.
NESNO gets a headline! Well done.
£1m Assembly bill demand
Sep 23 2004
Ross Smith And Daniel Cochlin, The Journal
The group fighting
against a North-East regional assembly has called on John Prescott to spend £1m
of public money sending the draft bill to every voter in the
Opponents last night condemned the idea as a waste of money, but
North East Says No claimed the move would clear up arguments about how much
power the assembly would have.
It would cost more than £1m to send the draft
Regional Assemblies Bill, which is 223 pages thick, to the region's 1.9 million
Nesno, which has opposed the assembly on the grounds of cost,
claims the price is worth paying to prevent the referendum being mired in claims
Both Nesno and Neil Herron's North East No Campaign
have raised questions about the wording of a Government information leaflet sent
out across the North-East and the preamble to the referendum question on ballot
papers. They believe it made the assembly sound more powerful than would
actually be the case.
In a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nesno
chairman John Elliott wrote: "Given that there has been so much controversy
surrounding the actions of the Government during this referendum we believe that
the Government needs to take action to reassure voters that it is committed to a
fair vote. North East Says No strongly believes that the best way the Government
can demonstrate this commitment is by sending the full copy of the Draft
Regional Assemblies Bill to every voter in the region.
"This will allow
them to make up their own minds about what is being offered."
Europe Minister Denis MacShane's suggestion of sending a copy of the EU
constitution to every household before a public vote on that issue should be a
model for referendums.
A campaign spokesman added: "We're confident the
`yes' campaign would support this as it would help people to make an informed
choice - people would be able to judge whether we're right on what the assembly
would lead to, or whether the `yes' campaign is right.
"It would send out
completely the wrong signal to North-East voters if the Government
But Yes4theNorthEast chairman John Tomaney said: "The
North-East public have a right to hear and read as much information as possible
about a regional assembly, but it is not a sensible use of over £1m of
taxpayers' money to send out a copy of the draft bill to every house in the
"It is ironic that the No campaign is now so keen on demanding
information from the Government when it couldn't find a single person from the
North-East to present its views on the Bill to the Parliamentary Select
Committee discussing it."
Neil Herron, whose rival anti-assembly campaign
lost out to Nesno in the race to secure Government campaign funding, said he
wanted the public to be informed but sending out the entire draft bill would be
He said: "There are only three or four points which the voters need
explaining - it would be ideal for everybody to read the draft bill but they are
not going to."
Moe correspondence from the public
I am an ardent NO supporter in the
forthcoming referendum on the NE Assembly.
I am not surprised by the stupid
revelation, by NESNO, that each household should receive a copy of the draft
After the rejection, by the Government, of Neil Herron
(NEARA) in favour of the ‘johnny come lately’ NESNO chaired by John Elliott, I
suspect that some of NESNO’s troops are perhaps YES campaigner’s in disguise,
who like Saul on the road to Damascus will have a remarkable conversion, just
before the ballot, to the Yes camp.
At the end of July I downloaded from
the official government website the aforementioned draft Bill (free of charge,
not the cost of £25.75 as quoted in the purple information booklet).
website is as follows, and can be transferred to 5 floppy discs,or a recordable
(it is 236 pages long and 6.7mb).
without a computer on the internet, then all local libraries now have computers
that can access the internet and just take the necessary discs with you for
transferring the info.
I suggest Mr Eliott (NESNO) you identify the
person(s) who thought up this nonsense. As Neil Herron says there are only a few
points that need explaining to the public, especially the fact that the majority
of the Bill refers to the legal establishment of Regional Development Agencies
and Consortiums by the Assembly (these are quangos to be paid for by the local
taxpayers in the NE region instead of Central Govt. but will nevertheless be
under the ultimate control of Central Government)
Audit Commission adds nothing ;-)
Dear Mr Sayers,
Thank you for your letter of 21
September, acknowledging the complaint which I made on 7 September to your
I made a further complaint to that office on 16
September, raising additional specific issues of inaccuracy/ommission in the
ODPM's "Have Your Say" leaflet.
In case my further complaint has not yet
been forwarded to you, I set out the text below.
Copies of both my
letters have been sent to the ODPM and to the Electoral Commission.
view of the imminenece of the referendum, and the seriousness of the situation,
legal advice is being taken to determine the appropriate course of action.I
shall be much obliged for your early reply.
North East No Campaign
16th September 2004
Referendum on a Regional Assembly in the North East
I refer to my
letter to you dated 7th September, asking you to investigate my complaint about
the money wrongly spent by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, issuing
advertisements and leaflets which are inaccurate and misleading and which
promote a particular political view.
Two further inaccuracies have now
come to light;
both are contained in the leaflet entitled "Have Your Say",
which I enclosed with my original letter:
1.On the page headed "A new
opportunity for the North East", there is a section entitled "How would the new
elected assembly operate?"
It reads"The Government intends that a North
East assembly would consist of around 25 elected members to represent different
views and parts of the region. They would be elected - as in Scotland, Wales and
London - by a system of proportional representation to help prevent domination
by a single party."
This is a lie.
The Draft Regional Assemblies
Bill, section 3,states that an assembly is to consist of both constituency
members and regional members; the constituency members will be members for
electoral areas (known as constituencies) within the region, whilst the regional
members will be members for the whole region.
Section 10 states that
"each constituency member of an assembly is to be returned under the simple
In the Explanatory Notes, point number 15,it states
that "the precise division between the number of each type of elected member
would be decided by an order of the Secretary of State but it is expected that
the constituency members would make up the majority"; thus, in other words, the
bulk of the members will be elected on the first-past-the post system, not by
The statements in the leaflet are
2. The second additional accuracy relates to the part of the
leaflet which covers local government reorganisation in County Durham. (In
Northumberland and Durham, voters will be asked in the referendum a second
question on the alteration of the current system).
Two options are given
to the voters, A and B, and the leaflet states that the Government will pay the
upfront costs; "these costs should be less than £37 million for option A and £38
million for option B".
This is a lie.
It has now come to light
that the costs for option B will actually be £47 million. The electorate is
being asked to vote on the basis of incorrect information.These are further
examples of the misuse of taxpayers' money: please investigate.
Mrs J. A. Wallace
National Audit Office3rd FloorHigham
HouseNew Bridge Street WestNewcastle-Upon-TyneNE1 8AU
Cc The Electoral
North East No Campaign
Alleged 'illegal' Actions
by Government as North East Electorate misled by 'Information' Leaflet.
Referendum now in chaos.
The North East No Campaign has lodged an
official complaint with the Audit Commission, the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister and the Electoral Commission over the blatantly biased and
misleading 'Your Say' Government Information Leaflet.
Preparations are now being made for a
legal challenge to have the Leaflet withdrawn should the Government not act and
fail to have the 'misleading statements' rectified to avoid the North East
public voting in a referendum after being misinformed. We are awaiting responses
from the Audit Commission, the Electoral Commission and the Office of Depty
Prime Minister before embarking on the legal challenge.
However, the referendum would possibly
have to be cancelled because, according to the Electoral Commission, we are now
in the 'Purdah Period' where the Government cannot put further information into
the public domain.
Douglas Stewart, Head of Referendums,
confirmed, "the purdah period commences 28 days prior to the first ballot
papers going out on the 18th October." The Electoral Commission confirmed
this to be the case at a series of roadshows across the region.
This conflicts with information being
given by the ODPM and GONE who now state the purdah period begins on 7th
Neil Herron states, "the North East
public have been deliberately misled by this Government leaflet. It is not
acceptable for the North East public to be making a decision which will affect
future generations based on blatant misinformation. We cannot see how, in such
circumstances, the referendum could proceed, but we hope that it does because we
expect a loud, resounding 'NO' from people who have been treated in such a
disgraceful, contemptuous manner."
Taking aside the blatant negative
portrayal of those saying 'No' in the photographs we need to look at the
"They (the assembly
members) would be elected - as in Scotland, Wales and London - by a system of
proportional representation to help prevent domination by a single political
The Draft Regional
Assemblies Bill states, "A number of members (constituency members) would be
elected for constituencies on the traditional 'first past the post' method. The
rest would be elected on a regionwide basis, as 'top-up members.'...it is
expected that the constituency members would make up the majority."
This is a deliberate attempt to mislead,
as is the following statement...
"The North East
Regional Development Agency, for example, would answer not to Ministers or
Whitehall but to the assembly."
However, the Draft Regional Assemblies
Bill Policy Statement (Section 43) states,
would retain powers to ensure that assemblies and their RDA's continue to
address national priorities.For example, the assembly would need to consult the
Government on the draft regional economic strategy and on Board
And now it is also
reported that Rt. Hon. Nick Raynsford has stated that the leaflet has
factual errors about costs of local reorganisation and more information has to
here to read.
This is not possible as we are now in the 'Purdah
Judith Wallace, Chairman of the North
East No Campaign states, " It is not possible for the Government to put any
information into the public domain. They cannot possibly simply correct a
mistake for Durham County residents when the issue is being decided by 1,900,000
North East residents. This whole affair is descending into an absolute
North East No Campaign
Tel. 0191 565 7143
Mob. 07776 202045
Notes to Editors:
The Electoral Commission did not have
sight of the Government's 'Your Say' Leaflet until 3rd September when we
handed them a copy at Trevelyan House. The ODPM had not even consulted them on
The same team, North East Against
Regional Assemblies, were successful with a complaint to the District
Auditor last year which exposed that the unelected North East Assembly had been
misusing public money in a similar way, and embarassed the North East Councils
who had been funding the propaganda.
Read the Christopher Booker article in
the Sunday Telegraph ... 'Rigging of a Referendum' here