Poll shows public want powers for the regions such as the North East

Devolution campaigners welcome Survation poll which showed many voters think London has too much power over the rest of the UK

Spending chiefs have urged the creation of a new £200m fund to help SMEs
Spending chiefs have urged the creation of a new £200m fund to help SMEs

A new poll has backed the call for regions such as the North East to be given a bigger say over their own future.

Devolution campaigners have welcomed a Survation poll which showed many voters think London has too much power over the rest of the UK.

Some 65% of those polled said they agree “too much of England is run from London.” Another 70% said they believe that “London receives preferential treatment over most other parts of the UK.”

The poll comes after a damning report into arts funding, the latest example of a London bias, which showed the capital received £69 per head for arts spending compared with £4.60 per person elsewhere in England.

Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP supporters were most likely to agree that too much power lies in London and believe that the capital city receives preferential treatment.

The example of Scottish and Welsh devolution saw some voters say they wanted similar powers for UK regions, with the North the most likely to back the call at almost 36%.

And asked how power should be devolved, nearly 52% of the North said it would prefer to see a new directly elected body created to be handed the new powers.

But the poll findings stand in stark contrast to the result of the 2004 North East Assembly referendum, in which 78% of the region voted against the plans.

The poll was commissioned by Devolve Deliver, a new network campaigning for greater devolution of powers across communities in England.

Campaign co-ordinator Neil Foster said: “The UK is one of the most over-centralised countries in the developed world and voters recognise that London receives preferential treatment to the cost of everywhere else.

“This poll shows there is a thirst across the country for more powers to be in the hands of local people and away from Whitehall.

“The best people to improve our economies and services are those closest to communities and trusted most by voters.

“Labour is on the right path in pledging to increase the amount devolved to local areas but can go further. While Scotland has its referendum, people in England are looking to see who will give us greater powers for our regions and local areas.”

Last night former regional minister Nick Brown welcomed the findings. He said: “Policies developed to solve perceived problems in London don’t work for the North East of England.

“Examples of this would be the bedroom tax and the Government’s present education policy.

“This poll shows that the public understand this and want public policy shaped to the specific needs of individual English regions.

“However when asked to vote in a referendum for an English Regional Assembly for the North East the public voted decisively ‘No’. We need to find other viable cost effective solutions to the problem. I favour the regional minister model that we had under the last Labour Government.”

The coalition Government has repeatedly pointed to its devolution credentials as examples of its efforts to hand more power back to local areas.

Already the Government has created a North East combined authority, in which seven councils share responsibility for transport, skills cash and economic development.

Labour has promised to continue down a similar path, but would bring back regional ministers.

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