Devon unitary - has a decision already been made?
A delegation of council leaders and MPs from all over Devon travelled to London to tell local government minister Rosie Winterton to discard any plans to change the current two-tier system of local government in favour of a single county-wide unitary a
A delegation of council leaders and MPs from all over Devon travelled to London to tell local government minister Rosie Winterton to discard any plans to change the current two-tier system of local government in favour of a single county-wide unitary authority as recommended by the Boundary Committee.
But they came away with the feeling that a decision had already been made.
Communities Secretary John Denham will be announcing a final decision on local government for Devon after consultation ends on Tuesday of next week, and council leaders wanted to make their voices heard for one final and very loud time.
Despite the meeting going well with the minister and her officer team, there was major concern that the decision may have already been taken by some in Whitehall to attempt to push through a change and go for either a Devon wide unitary or an Exeter City unitary, leaving the rest of the county in a two-tier system - a Devon County Council with all the district councils.
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With the exception of Exeter City Council, all other district councils in Devon as well as the county council have made it very clear that the current two-tier system is the right way forward with more than �23 million having been saved over the last few years by councils already working together in partnership within Devon.
Torridge District Council Leader James Morrish said: "The decision of how local government will look as from May 2011 is now firmly in the hands of the minister. For me, our visit to London to speak with Rosie Winterton was useful.
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" However, listening to her officer team it seems to me as if a decision could well have already taken place. My real hope is that the minister makes a decision based on facts, figures and public views rather than any political force to help support aspirations of any party.
"This very much includes the MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw, who has maintained his position as a campaigner for a unitary Exeter from the start even when he was the Minister for the South West who was meant to be looking out for us all! I guess we all will have to just wait and see what happens next."