MP urges Govermnet to drop Devon unitary plans

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has urged Communities secretary John Denham to drop plans for a unitary council for Devon. Mr Harvey said: I have taken the view all along that the council created would be too big to be sufficiently accountable or responsive t

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has urged Communities secretary John Denham to drop plans for a unitary council for Devon.

Mr Harvey said: "I have taken the view all along that the council created would be too big to be sufficiently accountable or responsive to the communities or people of Devon.

"I haven't changed my mind at all. But what makes it an even worse idea now is the financial crisis and the pressure on the public purse. The changes would costs a fortune at a time when we just can't afford to pay.

"Nor is it a good idea for such changes to be rushed through in the few remaining weeks of this Parliament.


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"But the one thing which would be even worse would be to revive the idea of a unitary council for Exeter. Exeter is too small to be viable as a unitary council: Torbay and Plymouth have proved ungovernable and the difficulties facing Exeter would be even more acute. Hazel Blears was quite right, when the proposal first emerged, to conclude that it was not viable. It would be sheer folly to return to the idea now.

"Beyond the damage it would do to Exeter, there is a real danger of it having a deleterious effect on the remainder of Devon. Stripped of its administrative heart and its economic centre the rest of the county would be weakened. Nor is the solution to have a second unitary authority covering the ring around Exeter, which idea has of course not at any stage been consulted over with the public and stakeholders.

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"Retaining the status quo is the only sensible option for now, but I am under no illusions that it will prove a permanent solution. Local government structures in Devon will have to be revisited in due course, but not in the current financial climate and not in a rush in the last few weeks of a Parliament.

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