Hartlepool's UKIP members call for referendum on devolution proposals

Councillor Tom Hind.
Councillor Tom Hind.

UKIP has said the people of Hartlepool should be given a say on the proposed devolution bill for Teesside.

The party has said a referendum should be held on the plans and has suggested the vote should take place on the same day as next year's local elections to keep the cost down to the taxpayer.

The deal would bring £450million of additional money into the Tees Valley over the next 30 years and would see some decisions moved away from Whitehall and into the region under democratic controls.

It aims to drive economic growth, accelerating 25,000 new jobs and creating another 14,000 more, but the final agreement depends on the support of councils in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton.

Chancellor George Osborne has said the scale of the deal means an elected mayor will have to be in place.

The Government has said significant cuts in council funding will take place, irrespective of any deal, but it is said any agreement will offer the area a new resource and rejecting it could mean it could lose out on job creation, infrastructure and influence over transport, housing and skills.

It would also give the area a "stronger voice" with central Government.

The plans are to be discussed at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council's civic centre at 7pm today.

Phillip Broughton, UKIP’s Hartlepool parliamentary candidate at the last general election, has made the call to the council to hold a referendum on the new devolution proposals.

He said: “I think it’s vital that the people of Hartlepool are given the chance to express their view on these devolution proposals.

"The council could hold the referendum on the same day as the local council elections next year therefore eliminating any extra cost to the council taxpayer.

"I hope the council will take this idea forward and give the people a say in the future direction of the area.

"The people of Hartlepool’s opinion should be asked before the government and the council agree to force through major changes without the consent of the people.

"These proposals should receive full proper consultation, debate and a referendum.”

The party's councillors Tom Hind, who represents the Seaton ward, and George Springer, from Jesmond, will be in attendance to raise a number of points in this Combined Authority Plan.

Councillor Hind said "UKIP wants devolution, but it must be grassroots driven, this is the one true way to achieve a fair devolution for all, we would also wish to introduce direct democracy at the local level.

"We should ask ourselves whether we are actually centralising local powers rather than devolving them?"