Eric Pickles confronts Eurostat by abolishing regional statistics

Published by Daily Mail

Eric Pickles very happy indeedyThis might seem like a very small victory, or a relatively insignificant retraction from the onward progression of the EU’s ‘ever closer union’ which has (until very recently) seemed inexorably one-way. But Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has firmly rebuffed the pompous Europhile academics and statisticians who demand unquestioning compliance to EUniformity.

From the end of October, the Department of Communities and Local Government will no longer collate or publish data based on the EU’s regions, which form part of the administrative landscape in all member states. Instead, data will be gathered along distinctly UK business and council-led Local Enterprise Partnership boundaries, to complement existing statistics gathered by local authorities.

So, out go the functional, distant and utterly alien ‘Eastern Region’, the ‘North West Region’, and the supranational Transmanche Region of ‘border community’ and common-purpose cooperation. And in come the historic, traditional and familiar upper-tier local authorities we know and love so well – Cheshire, Lancashire, Rutland, Oxfordshire, Cornwall…

According to Mr Pickles, EU regional classifications are ‘misleading’ because ‘they fail to quantify both the pockets of deprivation that can exist within regions or the differences between rural and urban England, and there is an inconsistency of approach to the size and population of each government region’.

“They are arbitrary lines on a map that have no resonance,” he said, “in contrast to England’s long-standing cities, boroughs and counties which have a real sense of local identity and popular support, dating back centuries in many cases.”

The Secretary of State is essentially of the view that the continuing use of the former government office regional boundaries no longer provides a coherent framework for assessing public policy: “Many of the Government’s policies now use alternative local geographies. Publishing statistics at a regional level is no longer necessary or informative, and we see little point in producing statistics at taxpayers’ expense for their own sake,” he said.
eurostatThis is not merely a symbolic shift. It may be observed that the British Government is obliged under EU regulations to provide regional statistics to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. So, by refusing to subscribe to Eurostat diktat, Mr Pickles is creating something of data-validity problem for the Euro-statisticians: while every other member state will be gathering, collating and comparing regional performance in prescribed EUnits, the UK will be submitting unique local authority figures, leaving it to Eurostat to formulate an effective methodology for analysing the data.

But the DCLG statement is unequivocal in its repudiation of EU encroachment: “Ministers reject the notion of a ‘Europe of the Regions’ where nation-states and national Parliaments are sidelined, and replaced with distant regional governments answerable only to a federal European super-state. Dismantling such arbitrary, unelected regional administrative structures will assist in that goal.”

To those who object, Mr Pickles advises: “For the purposes of historic comparisons, nothing prevents academics and other interested parties from compiling and analysing local authority data by the old regional government boundaries, if they wish.”

But, as far as he is concerned, the unelected Regional Assemblies/Regional Chambers, the Government Offices for the Regions, the Regional Fire Control programme, and the Regional Development Agencies have been terminated. And the same fate presently awaits the Regional Spatial Strategies.

The message is clear: the EU can carve and slice away at the nation states of Europe if they want to. But their strategy of divide and conquer won’t be progressing much further in the UK – at least not on Eric Pickles’ watch.

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  • Jacqui

    Good.

  • Andrew Smith

    I suggest the bureaucracy will ensure the underlying data remains available to the EU and for a subsequent Secretary of State to reestablish the reports required by our overlords. By the way, should a Sec of State be able to alter statistical reporting by a single act – sounds a very continental way of transacting affairs.

  • B.Anderson

    Well done Eric lad. We will probably meet in the future in a EU gulag as I hold the same opinions as you on the disgusting Rat Hole of Brusells and the Rodents that sit there.

  • http://hotmail.co.uk CARL

    At last a bit of common sense fron a politiciam, but as we all know statistics can be manipulated to mean whatever the statisticians want them to mean. Remember the old saying….’There are lies, damn lies and statistics’.

  • hackop

    Attaboy, Mr Pickles. Have no truck with this rubbish and don’t even bother to inform them why we’re not going to waste our time with their stupid statistics.

  • Trudi

    What a load of nonsense. If he doesn’t comply with their diktats, he will be fined. Or more accurately, WE will be fined. It isn’t his money. He knows this just as clearly as he knows the sun will come up tomorrow. The Ministries have clearly been told to go and create ‘good news’ headlines, but you have to have the gullibility of a teenager to be taken in by it. Mere tinkering around the edges – at best. Le Presidende will be laughing at us for our childishness.

  • roadrunner

    It’s about time one of our politicians stood upto this EU dictatorship many more should follow suit and give us a referendum.For far to long we have be assaulted by these unelected bureaucrats.Consider how Nigel Farage has been treated for criticising Van Rompoy fined 2000 Euros and costs, says a lot for freedom of speech in the EU.

  • cgray

    Well done Mr Pickles. Why cant our politicians see what is going on and stand up for GB instead of bending over backwards. Gov is there to defend the country against what ever and what ever the form maybe. Getting closer to the EU is not my most ardent thought. From what ive seen and read over the years.( Not what is in the DM) most of what happens in Brussells is decided by unalecked people. Get that sorted and you might get a really good EU to blossom.

  • Duncan

    The UK has collected statistics on a regional basis for decades – nothing to do with the EU. This is just playing to the gallery (whilst hoping to obscure how unequal the different parts of England have become).

  • dan

    Another arrogant pompous step back for for us European ordinary people, no doubt demanded from the unelected self interested paymasters of the Tory party puppets.
    We need these statistics in order to see how unjust this cronie government of the few is.

  • grumpy old

    Anyone noticed how the EU “ensignia” is morphing into a swastika?

  • icebouindguy

    “England’s long-standing cities, boroughs and counties which have a real sense of local identity and popular support, dating back centuries in many cases” were obsolete in the 1960s. That is why the government set up the Redcliffe-Maud royal commission. This recommended a re-drawing of local council boundaries and responsibilities. Counties were to be replaced by unitary districts. However, this was seen to favour Labour and disfavour the Tories, and when Harold Wilson was unexpectedly voted out in 1970, the Heath government ignored it.
    There is a great deal to be said for regional government. Unitary districts are more useful than counties, which should be abolished. These districts could combine together for many functions – there is no need for each to have personnel and payroll, property, vehicle management and other back-office jobs. The reduction in number of councils would mean fewer local bureaucrats would need to be employed – those remaining would have a clearer (and cheaper) career-structure. It would allow like-for-like comparisons to be made. If there were elected chief executives and principal officers, there could be fewer and more professional councillors.
    Eric “Hippo” Pickles is a dim politician lacking any strategic vision. It will take a few years for the country to recover from his bumbledom.

  • Barbara

    Well done Mr Pickles, but can you get the rest of the party to follow suit. Why send them any information at all, just ignore them. Who are they any way? Nothing less than unelected boffins who clearly want to dictate. I congratulate you, now renounce the rest of the rubbish from across the channel, with our blessing.