In today’s Birmingham Post (business supplement) John Duckers writes of the increasingly powerful threat to democracy that is Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency that controls £400 million-per-year of taxpayers’ money.
Ducker states with some conviction that, “AWM is fast becoming an unelected mini-government with uncontested authority over vast tracts of our lives”, and nowhere is its dictator-like rule felt more keenly than in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
According to a local TaxPayers’ Alliance activist and member of ‘Stratford Voice’- a pressure group that opposes unsuitable development and wasteful expenditure –AWM have big plans for the town and what the local people might want is of very little consequence.
The Regional Development Agency is proposing to fund “World Class Stratford”, a £5 million pound venture that includes plans for a footbridge over the Avon costing no less than £2 million. The plans for this bridge have been rejected by Stratfordians in a pretty conclusive four separate polls so we can safely say that this not something that the townspeople welcome, and yet AWM push forward with the support of the local councils. Not a semblance of democracy…
Perhaps the residents of Stratford should be grateful that Advantage West Midlands aren’t proposing to setup an advertising website for them running at a cost of nearly £1 million per year – made worse by the fact that the number of visitors to the current AWM-run BizTV are so few that it costs the taxpayer £90 for every person who actually intends to land on the site and use its facilities.
John Ducker goes on to mention more unelected regional money-draining machines, naming the usual culprits – all of whom have ambiguous relations with the general public - such as Business Link, City Region and Government Office for the West Midlands (familiar almost exclusively to those who work there). He speaks plainly of these quangos, concluding: “And what do all these organisations have in common – the first priority is to save their own skins rather than putting businesses and council taxpayers first”.
We are feeding money hand over fist to organisations comprising of people we didn’t elect who are using methods that we were never consulted on. Most importantly, these “agencies”, “links”, “regions” and “offices” are now not only failing to serve us properly but actively disobeying us and forming, as John Ducker states, a regional dictatorship.