The total number of people voting against the plans was 696,519 (78%), while 197,310 (22%) voted in favour. Official figures showed 47.8% of the region's 1.9 million voters took part in the all-postal ballot.I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the "no" majority and the reasonable turnout. There wasn't really any similarity to the Scottish devolution referendum: Scotland has a clearly identifiable national culture and well-defined territory together with its own legal system. That's not the case in the English regions where the very boundaries are often the invention of the Whitehall bureaucratic mind.
This appeared in the Scotsman earlier in the week:
The scandal over the spiralling cost of the building and its numerous delays is the only aspect of Scottish devolution that many voters in the north-east know about - and they do not want to make the same mistakes in their region.But when we had our referendum in Scotland no one expected that we would be made to pay for a new parliament building - the Royal High School was ready and waiting on Calton Hill. Why then would the people of north-east England not have a sneaking suspicion that they would be lumbered with one too?
One Labour MP confirmed that the problems of the Holyrood building had been raised by many voters over the last few weeks of campaigning, and the only way it could be countered was to insist that no new buildings would be constructed to house the North-east Assembly.