The Boundary Committee for England has published a draft proposal for new unitary local government arrangements in Devon and has called for people in the county to set out their views on this proposal.
The proposal outlines the Committee’s view that people in Devon would be best served by a unitary authority covering the whole of the county. Under the proposal, Plymouth’s and Torbay’s boundaries would be left unchanged. The Committee considers its draft proposal for each county likely to achieve the criteria on which the government has asked for advice (affordability; value for money services; neighbourhood empowerment and engagement; broad cross section of support; and strategic leadership).
However, the Committee also saw merit in another pattern of unitary local government in Devon – with one authority covering Exeter and Exmouth and one covering the rest of Devon, without changes to Plymouth and Torbay.
Max Caller, Chair of the Boundary Committee for England, said: “This proposal takes a fresh look at local government in Devon. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has asked us for our advice on unitary local government in Devon. Your responses to the draft proposal will inform the advice we give so tell us what you think. More importantly, tell us why you think that.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in the county talking to individuals and councils, and we think these proposals have the potential to offer people in Devon stronger local government capable of providing better and more efficient services to meet the new challenges that will face them.”
Responses to the draft proposal can be made by filling in an online form at www.boundarycommittee.org.uk or writing to:
The Boundary Committee for England
Great Peter Street
London SW1P 2HW
The period for responses closes on 26 September. The Committee will then consider responses before making final recommendations to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by 31 December 2008.
1. The Boundary Committee for England is independent of government and is committed to providing fair boundary arrangements for local authority elections
2. The Boundary Committee for England is responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements, e.g. defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected, and for conducting reviews of local government external boundaries and structure.
3. The Committee’s last structural reviews took place in 2003/04 in Northumberland, Co Durham, North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire in advance of a referendum on elected regional assemblies.
4. Twenty-six bids for unitary status were made to the Secretary of State in early 2007. Three of these – from Exeter City Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Norwich City Council – have been referred to the Boundary Committee for England for advice.
5. The Secretary of State felt that Exeter’s proposal would not meet all of the five criteria she set out. She asked the Boundary Committee to advise whether, for the City of Exeter and the remaining Devon county area, there could be an alternative pattern of unitary local government.
6. The power for the Secretary of State to request the Boundary Committee for advice is contained in Section 5 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
7. The Secretary of State has requested that advice is provided by 31 December 2008