Torridge leader attacks boundary recommendation

TORRIDGE District Council leader James Morrish said he was "astonished" by yesterday's announcement by the Boundary Committee, which has backed a single unitary authority for Devon.

TORRIDGE District Council leader James Morrish said he was "astonished" by yesterday's announcement by the Boundary Committee, which has backed a single unitary authority for Devon.

"I like many others believed that unitary issues were dead in the water, Cllr Morrish told the Gazette.

"But like a wounded animal, the whole issue is now at its most dangerous. The decision has now been taken out of our hands and the most disappointing thing above all is that a bunch of people can come down here, make an announcement and report back to one person who will be able to decide what local democracy will look like in the future. It's very sad.

"We have made our position very clear and will be writing again to the Boundary Committee to reaffirm that position."


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Cllr Morrish said the council now had the difficult task of setting budgets for the year ahead despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of the council.

"Although the fate of local government is uncertain, while we are still here - and we could well be for a number of years - we need to keep our eye on the ball and continue to do all we can to provide the best possible services at the lowest possible cost.

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"The only good thing to come out of the whole argument for a unitary authority is that we as a council have found more cost-effective ways of running a local authority, such as appointing a joint chief executive and sharing the skills pool with Teignbridge District Council."

He went on to say that the Boundary Committee's decision showed little regard for the success that Torridge has had.

"According to the Audit Commission's latest report, we are the top-rated authority in Devon and among the top 20 per cent of all local authorities in the whole country. When you consider that only a few years ago, we were ranked 412 out of 415 councils, this is a massive, massive jump.

"If the unitary decision goes ahead, our performance as a council should give Torridge staff the best opportunity of being re-employed."

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