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There is just one week left for people in the Northern regions to submit views on how they would like their local government to be restructured.
At the request of the Government, on 17 June 2003 The Boundary Committee for England began a major review of local government structure. The three regions they have been looking at in great depth are the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. Provided with guidance by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Committee must recommend at least two options for a single tier of local government in areas where there are currently both district and county councils.
A referendum will be held in all three regions to decide whether the public want an elected regional assembly. People living in the two-tier areas of the three northern regions will also be able to vote for their preferred option for unitary local government. These options will only be implemented in the event of a yes vote for elected regional assemblies.
The review is divided into 4 stages, which includes 2 twelve-week public consultation periods. The deadline of 23 February 2004 for the second consultation is swiftly approaching, after which the Committee will spend the final weeks of the review considering all submissions received. To date, more than 5,000 submissions have been received about local government structure in the three regions. More are arriving on a daily basis. The Committee must submit their final recommendations to the Deputy Prime Minister, no later than 25 May 2004.
The Committee must ensure that its recommendations, amongst other key criteria, reflect local communities and community interests.
Since the start of the review, The Boundary Committee has been attending regular meetings in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions, with representatives of all 50 authorities which may be affected by the review, as well as other stakeholders and interested parties. They welcome the cooperation they have received, with many councils working together to put proposals to the Committee. The Committee has also attended two briefings to MPs at the House of Commons. MPs representing all parties have had an opportunity to air their views on the patterns of unitary local government in the three regions under review.
Boundary Committee Director, Archie Gall said, We are now approaching the final stage of the review. We have seen well-constructed arguments from local government, stakeholders and the public, which will enable us to make informed decisions for changes to local authority structure in the areas being reviewed. We look forward to receiving further submissions before the 23 February deadline.
The Committee is required to identify at least two options for unitary authorities in each area and recommend them to the Government. These must provide the basis for high performing unitary local government in the two-tier areas of the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, combining effective service delivery across all local authority services with responsiveness to local communities.
Submissions from local people, councils and other organisations can be made by writing to The Local Government Review Team (review county), The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2HW, or by logging on to www.boundarycommittee.org.uk. Proposals during this final stage of consultation must reach the Committee by 23 February.
Charmaine Colvin on 020 7271 0700 or Elise Cross on 020 7271 0530
Out of Office hours 07887 626 774
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