SANDBACH'S MP Ann Winterton has questioned the Prime Minister personally on his policy on elected regional assemblies.
During Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons, the Tory MP asked Tony Blair why his Government is determined to establish a North West Regional Assembly 'when it would have no extra powers, no extra resources and would result in reduced democracy for rural constituencies such as Congleton.'
Speaking afterwards, she said: 'This was hardly a ringing endorsement of his Government's policy on elected regional assemblies by the Prime Minister.
'Mr Blair singularly failed to answer any of the points I made in my question about the lack of powers, resources and the diminished democracy for rural communities.
'It appeared as though the Prime Minister himself was not interested in the whole debate on regional assemblies, let alone the proposed North West Regional Assembly.'
Conservatives have attacked the proposals. Cheshire County Council Tory leader Paul Findlow denied there was a public mood for changing the current system.
He said: 'The inescapable conclusion is that the Government claimed that there was strong interest, when in fact 9,997 people out of every 10,000 either voted no, or expressed no interest whatsoever in having a referendum. I fear that there will be a dear price to pay for a 'Yes' vote - not only in Cheshire but also across the North West from Carlisle to Crewe.'
However, if the people voted for change Cllr Findlow believes only the county council could deliver public services at a reasonable price within an exercise which in overall terms would be a 'nightmare' for taxpayers.
The district councils are also using MORI research conducted for the Boundary Committee of England to support their claim they should run public services in future.
The research showed electors identify most strongly with their local neighbour-hood rather than Cheshire County.