HAMPSHIRE is being abolished as a county, it is claimed.

Aldershot MP Gerald Howarth said: "The cat is out of the bag. Labour's plans for regional assemblies will mean the abolition of England's historic shire counties, including Hampshire."

The revelation came from Lord Falconer, the Prime Minister's close friend and Dome Minister.

Said Mr Howarth: "Rather than devolving responsibilities to local communities, Labour - backed by the LibDems - plans to transfer power to a new tier of regional politicians based outside Hampshire.

"Local people in Rushmoor and Hart will have less say over issues like planning, housing and transport.

"Worse, such restructuring could cost over £50 million in Hampshire alone and a new regional council tax may be introduced to pay for these new politicians.

"During the last local government reorganisation, Humberside County Council, the deputy Prime Minister's local council, spent £53 million in one-off reorganisation administrative costs.

"As ever, taxpayers' money is being wasted on bureaucracy, red tape and an irrelevant political agenda, rather than concentrating on funding vital public services which are underfunded, such as social services.

"New local boundaries will fit conveniently into Brussels' grand plan for a Europe of regions."