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White Elephant back to tackle waste.

Byline: By Zoe Hughes Political Editor

Two years ago it successfully beat off calls for a directly elected North-East Assembly.

Today the White Elephant is back ( this time to take on politicians of all shades from the region amid warnings taxpayers' money is being wasted.

The Taxpayers Alliance will today launch its first regional campaign to tackle waste in public services ( with the unelected assembly the first target in its sights.

Reuniting the leading figures of the former North-East Says No group, the grassroots organisation has said it is time to add some "dynamism" to the region, with demands for lower taxes and greater devolution of power to communities.

Focusing their criticism explicitly on politicians, the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA) said the long-standing problems of the region, such as long-term unemployment and high council tax, were not being solved ( calling instead for directly elected mayors with powers over transport and even police.

However it is the White Elephant that will be the star of the show today ( after a hasty repair job and a quick scrub down.

"It has spent the last two years in someone's garage and did have a hole in it but the elephant is the best symbol of what we're fighting against ( and that's waste," said a spokesman of the TPA.

"This is a genuine grassroots campaign.

"We are explicitly anti-politician and anti-establishment."

The group ( which is reuniting former NesNo leaders John Elliot, chairman of the new North-East TPA and Ian Dormer, of Rosh Engineering, as well as 50 business people ( dismissed suggestions their campaign would be negative, with the spokesman adding: "This is about being positive about the North-East."

He added: "There is a lot of anger about things such as the unelected assembly. It is not making any difference to life in the North-East. What we want are genuine powers for local people."

The North-East TPA is hoping to launch a manifesto in the coming months.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 28, 2006
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