St Helens takes policy board under its wing

4NW, the short-lived successor to the North West Regional Assembly, a policy forum for local authority leaders, has relocated from Wigan to St Helens, shed 90% of its staff and relaunched as the North West Regional Leaders Board.

Three staff remain out of 32 prior to the announcement in May that the new government would cease funding for regional leaders boards.

The three remaining staff are Phil Robinson, chief executive, Michelle Stoddart, PA to the chief executive and Michael Gallagher, director of planning, transport and housing.

The board, chaired by Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, is made up of 16 council leaders from around the region, supported by business representatives including Alan Manning, regional secretary of the North West Trade Union Congress and Mike Blackburn, regional director of BT.

The assembly and latterly 4NW were located in Wigan for 12 years and drew up regional planning guidance and lobbied on the region's behalf in government spending reviews. Planning guidance, or Regional Spatial Strategies, are being scrapped by the coalition government with planning control being devolved to local authorities.

The new scaled down board is now based in St Helens town hall and is supported by St Helens Council.

The new Regional Leaders Board will continue until at least March 2011. A statement from the NWRLB said: "In this period of uncertainty and transition, the Regional Leaders Board will continue to provide a voice for the North West on key issues on the national and regional stage.

"This is in addition to the ongoing work with the Local Authorities, private and voluntary sector partners and colleagues the North West Development Agency and Government Office for the North West on transitional issues associated with the creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships and abolition of regional structures of Government currently provided by NWDA and GONW."

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