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South West Regional Assembly


South West Regional Assembly

Logo of the South West Regional Assembly, 1999-2009

The South West Regional Assembly (SWRA) was the regional chamber for South West England, established in 1999. It was wound up in December 2008, and its functions taken on by the Strategic Leaders' Board, the executive arm of the newly established South West Councils.

The SWRA covered an area of 23,829 square kilometres including Taunton, as is its successor body.


  • Transfer of functions from the Regional Assembly 1
  • Organisation 2
  • Role 3
  • Opposition to SWRA 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • See also 7

Transfer of functions from the Regional Assembly

In July 2007, Local Government Minister John Healey MP announced Government plans to abolish regional assemblies. The functions of regional assemblies were planned to pass to regional development agencies in 2010.[1]

The assembly's responsibilities for planning, housing and transport transferred to the Strategic Leaders' Board of South West Councils on 13 May 2009. The transfer followed agreement between the Assembly Leaders, the Strategic Leaders, the Social Economic and Environmental Partners and South West Councils. The outgoing Chairman of the Assembly, Sir Simon Day said:[2]

"The assembly achieved a huge amount over the past few years and has risen to a number of difficult challenges. From our first successful lobbying activity for Objective 1 funding to encourage investment in Cornwall and Isle of Scilly, to backing the UK’s Olympic Bid and the case to host the sailing event in the South West through to making make tough decisions on allocating funding for major transport and infrastructure, each challenge has require a grit and determination to achieve a regional consensus and provide a clear message to Government."


South West region within England

SWRA was not a directly elected body, but was a partnership of councillors from all local authorities in the region and representatives of various sectors with a role in the region's economic, social and environmental well-being. It was made up of 119 members, of which:

  • 79 were appointed by the 51 Unitary, County and District Authorities in the South West. Membership was reviewed by local authorities every year, and changes reflected political proportionality across the region after local elections.
  • 2 were appointed by the National Parks Authorities in the region.
  • 2 were appointed by the Association of Local Councils.
  • 36 were appointed by the region’s Social, Economic and Environmental Partners (SEEPs). The SEEPs were drawn from a range of sectors including businesses, the voluntary sector, education and training, environmental bodies, faith communities, trades unions, tourism, health, agriculture, Racial Equality Councils, co-operative agencies, Learning and Skills Councils, Business Links and Culture. The SEEP representatives were nominated by regional Groups and these were reviewed at least every four years, so the Membership was fairly fluid.


The main functions performed by the SWRA included:

  • Channelling regional opinions to the business-led regional development agency,
  • Carrying out advocacy and consultancy roles with national government bodies and the European Union,
  • The Assembly was the Regional Planning Body with a duty to formulate a Regional Spatial Strategy,
  • The Assembly was also the Regional Housing Body responsible for producing the Regional Housing Strategy (RHS).

Opposition to SWRA

There was much opposition to the formation of the South West Regional Assembly with critics saying it was an unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable Scotland and London are benefiting from devolution then Cornwall should learn from this and increase the intensity of its own campaign for devolution to a Cornish Assembly."[6]


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  3. ^
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  6. ^ Andrew George MP - Press Release 29th Oct 2007

External links

  • Archive of South West Regional Planning work up to 2010
  • South West Regional Assembly
  • Campaign for a Cornish Assembly
  • Cornish Lib Dems Support Cornish Assembly

See also

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