THE leader of Crewe and Nantwich Borough, Peter Kent, voiced his disappointment after the Government postponed a referendum on an elected regional assembly for the North West.
The vote was due to take place on November 4 this year.
But it was announced on Thursday that the referendum would be put back, along with a count for Yorkshire and the Humber, over fears about the security of postal voting. A referendum for the North East of England will go ahead as planned.
It also means there will be no vote on whether to scrap the county or borough councils in Cheshire.
The announcement follows predictions from MPs and campaigners the North West would not vote on an elected assembly for years - if at all.
However, the Government has put a brave face on the embarrassment, insisting the poll could still go ahead next year if doubts over the safety of all-postal voting could be cleared up.
Ministers pledged to set out a fresh timetable in September, following the Electoral Commission's report on alleged fraud in last month's postal ballots, to be published on August 27.
They suggested a 'Yes' vote could still establish an assembly by mid-2006 - the earliest date for the launch of devolution in the North West.
Despite this, the postponement is a major blow to advocates of a North West assembly, and the Government's revised timetable has been ridiculed by gleeful opponents of devolution, who insisted that the referendum had been scrapped, not postponed.
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council leader, Cllr Kent says he remains committed to an elected assembly.
He said: 'I'm very disappointed that the referendum has been postponed, but will continue to push for what I think is best for Crewe and Nantwich, and the North West.
'I understand that the Government were unwilling to proceed with the vote because of concerns over the mechanics of postal voting, but in our borough the system was a great success.
'Opposers of postal voting say that the system is open to fraud. But in the experience of Crewe and Nantwich noone did fiddle with the system, and I will be pressing to make sure the referendum does go ahead.'
The leader of the borough council's Conservative Group, Cllr Brian Silvester welcomed the postponement.
He said: 'It has finally dawned on Labour that local people don't want another expensive and unnecessary tier of government.
'Regional assemblies would have little power but would cost local council taxpayers a fortune. Labour have spent £5m on an 'information' campaign on regional government.'
The Conservative lead of Congleton Borough Council has pledged to stay in contact with neighbouring authorities over the plans for local government reform, despite plans for a referendum being scrapped.
Cllr Roland Domleo said: 'The borough councils of Congleton and Macclesfield will work together and await decisions when Parliament returns.'