Headlines: September 11th, 2001

The English Regions Network has secured a 1 million pound grant to support its role in helping regions to work together effectively. The Network represents the eight English regions and seeks to promote inter-regional working. It is committed to the development of an inclusive and dynamic approach to regionalism and regional development. It aims to build a regional perspective to public and political debate and intends to harness the energy and creativity of people, organisations and all political parties to devise ideas and solutions for the challenges of the new century.The grant will allow the Network to invest in pilot projects to identify best practice in engaging key groups which may be under represented or perceived to have limited impact on the work of Regional Assemblies. It will also be used to develop mechanisms for scrutiny activity and give an opportunity for information exchange between regional organisations.

The Regional Chambers, which foster partnership working between local authorities and regional partners, have been invited to bid for funding. They operate within the same boundaries of the government offices in the regions and the regional development agencies. The chambers work closely with regional stakeholders on issues such as regional planning guidance including regional transport frameworks, European structural funds, regional sustainable development frameworks and social inclusion.

Regionalism was discussed at a TUC backed Congress fringe meeting and speakers included the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. The meeting focused on a report by the Centre for Urban & Regional Development Studies, University of Newcastle.which argues that Trade unions need to develop a coherent & pro-active response to the emerging regional agenda. The report examines the impact of the move toward directly elected regional government on the TUC and trade unions, and recommends that they make available extra financial and material resources to support the engagement of trade unions at a regional level.

On Thursday 13 September there is conference in Maastricht on designing a new European policy for regions, cities and municipalities. It is being organised by the regional policy commission of the Committee of the Regions, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and the Province of Limburg.