Local Government in North West England is facing a massive shake-up after Labour today revealed plans to divide Britain up into administrative regions laid out by the European Commission.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP for the North West warned that the White Paper 'Your Region, Your Choice - Revitalising the English Regions' posed a major threat to the long-term integrity of the United Kingdom, and to our area in particular.

Speaking after John Prescott's announcement in the Commons today, Sir Robert said: "The Government claims this White Paper is about the devolution of power, but that is simply not the case. This is about breaking the United Kingdom up into administrative units as set out by bureaucrats in Brussels. For years now, maps of the EU have ceased to show England and have instead shown these regions; this is the next step along the road towards fulfilling this federalist ambition."

The effects of the White Paper would result in:

a) The abolition of established Metropolitan Councils and County Councils such as in Cheshire Cumbria and Lancashire.

b) A referendum on a Regional Assembly for the North West, drawn up to match the administrative region created by the EU.

c) Letting the Region deal directly with Brussels, thus by-passing Westminster Scrutiny of EU expenditure and diminishing national and local sovereignty.

d) The merging of existing Local Councils in "super-authorities" taking Government further away from the people.

"Local democracy needs revitalisation, but that should be done through existing channels rather than throwing away the baby with the bathwater," added Sir Robert. "It is no coincidence that this paper follows hot on the heels of an EU White Paper on Regional Governance released last autumn. That laid out the blueprint for a Europe of the Regions, with nation states like the United Kingdom relegated to the sidelines.

"Today, the Labour Government has shown that it has swallowed Romano Prodi's vision of a federal Europe hook, line and sinker. Is it any wonder that they chose 'Europe Day' for its release?" ENDS

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