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Today The Boundary Committee for England begins a major review of local government structure in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. This follows an announcement yesterday from the Deputy Prime Minister paving the way for referendums on elected regional assemblies.
Before any referendum on elected regional assemblies, the Government has asked the Committee to recommend at least two options for a single level of local government in areas where there are currently both district and county councils. If electors vote for regional assemblies next year, new unitary authorities will replace the existing two levels of local government in the three regions.
When referendums on elected regional assemblies are called, electors living in the two-tier areas of each of the three regions will also be asked to decide how their local government is to be structured in the future, based on the Committee's options.
The Committee's independent review will take about a year, starting with a 12-week public consultation. Submissions from local people, councils and other organisations are invited by 8 September 2003 by writing to The Local Government Review Team, The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2HW, or by logging on to www.boundarycommittee.org.uk.
The Committee expects to publish draft recommendations for public consultation in December 2003.
Chair of The Boundary Committee Pamela Gordon says, 'Following public consultation, the Committee will recommend to the Government at least two patterns of unitary authorities in each area. We are looking for proposals that will provide for effective, high performing unitary local government in the two-tier areas of each region, which reflect community identities and will provide for the best delivery of services to local people.'
Gemma Crosland on 020 7271 0527 or Elise Cross on 020 7271 0530
Out of Office hours 07789 920 414
Notes to editors:
1. The Boundary Committee is a statutory committee of The Electoral Commission.
2. The Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003, paving the way for referendums on elected regional assemblies, was introduced to Parliament in November 2002 and received Royal Assent in May 2003.
3. The Boundary Committee's local government reviews are expected to take up to a year to be completed. In the event of a 'no' vote in a referendum on an elected regional assembly, no local government restructuring will take place.