Centre risks another 'humiliating defeat': the government's regionalisation agenda has never looked so troubled. Whether it's elected regional assemblies or regional control rooms, nobody seems to want them. As the general election draws ever closer, will it push ahead regardless?(FBU Comment)

The vote on the elected regional assembly for the North East was to trigger the spread of 'devolution' across the whole of England. The region had been chosen carefully since its sense of common identity should have delivered a 'Yes' vote. Momentum would have been created for successful polls to establish mini-parliaments in other English regions. But it did not go to plan.

Instead, there was a resounding 'No' vote--4: 1 against. As Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott conceded to the House of Commons on Nov 8, there now is no chance of any new votes to establish such bodies this side of next year's general election.

Pressed by a gloating opposition on whether the government would now also ditch plans on other aspects of its regionalisation agenda including in the Fire and Rescue Service, Mr Prescott said that no, it would not. …

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