THE people of northern Devon are being been called on to support a campaign opposing plans for one large unitary authority to run the county. Public consultation is now under way on recommendations from the Boundary Committee to scrap both North Devon and

THE people of northern Devon are being been called on to support a campaign opposing plans for one large unitary authority to run the county.Public consultation is now under way on recommendations from the Boundary Committee to scrap both North Devon and Torridge councils by 2010, replacing the present system with one unitary authority to run all of Devon, bar Plymouth and Torbay.Opposition is growing to what will be the biggest shake-up in local government for more than 30 years and battle lines are being drawn as the consultation deadline of September 26 draws nearer. North Devon Council is holding an extraordinary meeting today (Wednesday) to discuss its response but since the leaders of all three parties - Mike Harrison (Conservative), Malcolm Prowse (Lib Dem) and Eric Ley (Independent) - have already come out against the proposals, it seems likely their opposition will win strong support.Torridge District Council originally voted narrowly in favour of the single unitary plan, but is to meet again in early September to discuss the matter afresh.Philip Milton, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North Devon, this week called on local people to rally round and support the campaign:"We do not want to be run by one monolithic, remote council too big to be efficient and too distant to be accountable to the widely dispersed urban and rural communities it serves," he said."Selfishly, we don't want any of Exeter or Devon County's debts, either! "Have the full details been considered? Just think, there would be one licensing authority to cover the whole area and only up to three planning committees."The people of northern Devon have an opportunity of making change. The Boundary Committee, which spent all of one and a quarter hours here apparently, has admitted that if there is massive dissatisfaction about the county-wide unitary authority then it must listen.'"The move to a single authority would mean every council service - from planning and rubbish collection to education and social services - would in future be provided by one county-wide authority.District and county councillor numbers would be dramatically reduced, with 12 unitary members to serve North Devon and nine for Torridge.North Devon Council chief executive John Sunderland said today's meeting would enable the council could consider its next step."I suspect there will be a number of councillors who won't want to give up the fight just yet," he said."If the public is concerned about decisions being made by people in the south or that this decimates local democracy and the centre of the new council will be too far away, then they have valid points and these should be made to the Boundary Committee."All of the resources will have gone south and we will be the poor relations."He added that with some 8,000 people to each councillor, it seemed little thought had been given as to how accessible and accountable they would be to those who had elected them. The Boundary Committee will submit its final recommendations to the Secretary of State at the end of this year. A decision is expected in February 2009.Committee chairman Max Caller has called on people in Devon to give their opinions, but also to make sure they give their reasoning too.Responses to the draft proposals can be made by filling in an online form at www.boundarycommittee.org.uk - where the proposals can also be viewed - or by writing to: Review Manager, (Devon Review,) The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 2HW. Alternatively email: reviews@boundarycommittee.org.uk