OVER the next few days voting forms will be delivered to tens of thousands of homes across the North-East.

These pieces of paper will determine the future of government in our region.

We are being given a historic opportunity to decide whether or not we want a regional assembly. And if we agree to that proposal, people in County Durham and Northumberland will be given the opportunity to shape the future of their local government.

These are issues of fundamental importance, and we urge people to listen to and examine the debate.

But most of all we urge people to cast their votes.

It is important that whatever decision the region takes, the decision has credibility. A low-turnout in the referendum will not enhance credibility.

The decision must be decisive and reflect as much as possible the true will of North-East communities.