Boundary Committee calls for single unitary council for Devon

THE Boundary Committee has called for Devon to become a single unitary authority. The decision, nearly two years in the making, will be used to help the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government shape the future of local government in the co

THE Boundary Committee has called for Devon to become a single unitary authority.

The decision, nearly two years in the making, will be used to help the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government shape the future of local government in the county.

The committee advises the Government not to approve an original 2007 proposal for unitary status from Exeter City Council. Instead, it backed proposals for a Devon-wide council, advice that if implemented, would spell the end for North Devon and Torridge district councils. The whole of Devon, except for the existing unitary authorities of Plymouth and Torbay, would be government by one council.

Max Caller, chairman of the Boundary Committee for England, said: "Our role in this process has been to provide independent advice to the Government, not to decide what will happen. We are setting out today those patterns of unitary local government that, in our view and based on the extensive evidence we've seen and heard, have the capacity to best meet the criteria that the Secretary of State has set.


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"The sheer scale of evidence we've seen and heard from local people and groups in the county reinforces the view that local government is as diverse as the people it serves. We heard strong views from those who want to keep the current system, and we make no criticism of the people working hard to deliver services that people rely on. It's also clear that there is no decisive consensus either way.

"But in deciding our advice we were ultimately persuaded by the broad cross section of people and groups who told us that there were patterns of unitary local government that are able to deliver more affordable services with clear strategic leadership and can empower local towns and villages to get more out of the services they use.

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"The process has taken a long time to get right, but we wouldn't have continued working if we didn't think that our advice could provide opportunities for real changes that can improve people's lives by making the services they use more effective and efficient. It is now up to the Secretary of State to take a decision on whether to implement the alternative proposals that we are making to him."

Secretary of State, John Denham MP, can now decide whether to approve the Exeter City Council proposal, a single unitary council proposal, or take no action. Before Mr Denham makes his final decision, representations can still be made about either proposal until January 19, 2010. Comments on the proposals can be emailed to devonstructures@communities.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to: Unitary Structures Team, Department for Communities and Local Government, Zone 3/J1, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU.

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