This is an archived news release and links may no longer work.
On the 25 May, The Boundary Committee for England will publish its final recommendations for unitary local government in the North West, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber regions. With less than two months to go, public opinion research published today will be yet another finding to take into account by the Committee when deciding on options to present to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
At the request of the Government last June, The Committee began a major review of local government structure in the three northern regions ahead of the referendums on elected regional assemblies. The local government review, which will take almost a year to complete, covers six counties: Cheshire, Cumbria, County Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and North Yorkshire. The Committee must recommend at least two options for a single level of local government in areas where there are currently both districts and a county council.
The research, carried out by the MORI Social Research Institute, involved interviews with some 17,000 residents across all 44 two-tier districts in the three regions, together with four adjoining single-tier areas. Unlike the MORI research published last October, which focused on residents sense of identity, interviewees were asked to consider the Committees draft recommendations for unitary local government in the three regions, which were put out for public consultation on 1 December 2003.
When asked why they favoured particular options, many interviewees identified with the need for efficiency and value for money or the geographical size of their proposed new council. As with the previous research, quality of services was the overall single most important issue to be taken into account when considering the review.
Interestingly, the research also indicates that over three quarters of people interviewed feel a strong sense of belonging to their historical county areas - rather more than to their administrative district or county council areas.
Findings show that many local people became aware of the review by reading their local newspaper. Strong, quality coverage by the regional press and The Boundary Committees own repeat advertising at each of the four stages of the review contributed to ensuring the review was covered as widely as possible.
The final stage of public consultation ended on 23 February 2004. Pamela Gordon, Chair of The Boundary Committee said As we move swiftly towards our 25 May deadline and finalising our options for unitary local government, a full and thorough consideration has been given to the thousands of submissions we have received since the start of the review. These, combined with other relevant research, evidence and argumentation will form the basis for well-constructed arguments which support the best possible choices for local people.
Our priority is to submit at least two different options for all-purpose, high-performing unitary authorities which will offer the public the services they expect and deserve.
For further information contact:
The Boundary Committee Press Office
Senior Press Officer, Charmaine Colvin: Tel: 020 7271 0700/07887 626 774
Assistant Press Officer, Elise Cross: 020 7271 0530
MORI press contact
Research Director, Simon Atkinson: Tel: 020 7347 3242