HYNDBURN has welcomed the news that the referendum on a North West Regional Assembly has been dropped.
In a humiliating climbdown, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott this week told MPs that he was not going ahead with plans to hold polls in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber.
This follows last week's vote in the North East where there was a landslide majority against devolution.
The announcement means that Hyndburn Council is safe for the foreseeable future.
And it represents victory for the Observer's Hands Off Big Brother campaign in which we collected hundreds of signatures protesting about plans to merge Hyndburn with Blackburn as a second tier of local government if the Regional Assembly had gone ahead.
Leader of Hyndburn Council, Peter Britcliffe, said: "I am delighted because it shows that the stand we were making as a council was justified and I hope it will now give us a period of stability in local government so we are able to make progress rather then fear the advent of Big Brother taking over."
Labour group leader Councillor Jean Battle said that the decision would allow local councils to get back to business.
She added: "I am glad a final decision has been made on whether we are going to have a referendum or not. The councils can now get on with their business without being distracted by the Regional Assembly idea."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said that the news would be welcomed by people in the borough.
He added: "The North West referendum was originally supposed to go ahead at the same time as the one in the North East but it was delayed largely due to pressure from MPs such as myself.
"The fact that it was defeated so easily in the North East indicates the way it would have gone here.
"I did not know anybody who wanted it and no tears will be shed at the dropping of this proposal."
Councillor Hazel Harding, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "I am glad that the Government has listened to what the people in the North East said as I am sure that the response from the people in the North West would have been the same.
"It seemed that the more people in the North East were told what was on offer the less they liked it and I am certain the same would be true in the North West.
"The Deputy Prime Minister said in Parliament this week that to continue to press ahead with the plans for a referendum at this stage would 'result in a long period of uncertainty for local government in two regions', which he did not think was acceptable. I back Mr Prescott on this stance.
"Lancashire County Council has concentrated on providing quality services and improving the way we work throughout the regional debate. Now this period of uncertainty seems to have ended we will continue to strive for excellence."