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'Don’t touch our regions, Mr Valls'

French people agree local red tape must be cut - but not at the risk of losing their regional identity, survey finds

CUT LOCAL bureaucracy, but leave our regions alone. According to a survey, that’s the message most people in France want to send new Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

In his first policy speech as Prime Minister on Tuesday, Mr Valls unveiled plans to cut the number of regions by half.

But a survey found that 77% of people are against the idea of the region they live in disappearing as it is consumed into a new, larger, region.

Even the majority of those whose regional names may survive Mr Valls’ cull are against the idea - 54% do not wish to see their region grow as it incorporates others.

Most, though, want to see a cut in local government bureaucracy, with 68% saying they agree with plans to reduce regional red tape.

This was one of the cornerstones of President’s Francois Hollande’s plan to reduce the number of regions when it was first announced before the local elections.

Alsatians, Bretons and Franche-Comté are the most attached to their region as it is now, the survey found, while Parisians and the inhabitants of Champagne-Ardenne are least bothered about their region of residence.

A total 48% of Lorraine residents would not welcome closer ties with their Alsatian neighbours - and the unpopularity of such a union is mutual: 61% of Asatians say they don’t want their region to be merged with Lorraine.

At the other end of the scale, 50% of people living in Normandy and 66% of Haute-Normandie residents would be happy to see their regions united.

The LH2 internet survey of 5,111 people was conducted between February 24 and March 3.

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