Response to decision on unitary councils in Devon
The change to local government organisation in Devon has been revealed as the preference for the Exeter unitary council is announced.
– Mid Devon District Council –
Commenting on the decision, Mid Devon District Council Leader Peter Hare-Scott said: “At last we have a decision. While this is welcome news for Mid Devon District Council it is not good news for Devon.
“We, along with most other Districts, have been consistent in our approach and continually emphasised the strong case for keeping the Districts in Devon. This announcement reflects the wishes of local residents in the rural areas and retains the present Councillor representation and local responsiveness.
“However, a unitary Exeter will necessitate a whole new unnecessary bureaucracy and create great difficulties for Devon County Council. The colossal transaction costs will not be recouped – 3 and a half years ago a financial appraisal clearly showed a unitary Exeter was not viable and was rejected by the then Secretary of State. Given the current economic climate and the need to avoid unnecessary public expenditure, what possible justification can there be for this u-turn? It is politically motivated and wholly irresponsible.
“I am pleased that the cloud of uncertainty has been lifted from us in Mid Devon and we can now concentrate on the prime task of delivering high quality services, offering good value for money, co-operating with other Districts where appropriate and pursuing our medium and long term aspirations.”
– Teignbridge District Council –
Teignbridge District Council will continue to deliver a range of value for money services to local people following the Government’s announcement of a new unitary authority for Exeter.
The future of local government in Devon had been in question following a recommendation by the Boundary Committee for a single Devon council providing all local authority services across the county. However, the Government today decided that this did not meet its required criteria for a unitary council, as it did not have a ‘broad cross-section of support’ or encourage ‘neighbourhood empowerment’. Instead the Government decided to reconsider its decision on Exeter City Council’s original bid for unitary status, and chose to create a single Exeter council on Exeter City Council’s existing boundary, to be implemented in April 2011.
Cllr Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge Council told the Devon Week: “This is a long delayed announcement and demonstrates the Government’s complete disregard for the views of the majority of people in Devon.
“The whole re-organisation programme is a scandalous waste of public money at a time of national belt tightening. This money could have and should be put to better use supporting the important services people need and want.
“Our own consultations in Teignbridge have shown that local people do not want any change – and reluctantly accepted the idea of a Devon unitary provided there were real benefits.
“Benefits have not been demonstrated and the evidence to the Government demonstrates there is no economic case of any substance for the city to become a unitary council.
“Councils in Devon are working together and delivering savings. It is a huge disappointment that the Government ignores what is already being achieved while instead seeking to rearrange its deckchairs.”
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