Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Interactive Leaflet 9 - Unitary Authority?

We may be getting a change in local government in the next couple of years with the abolition of both District and County Councils and their replacement by either one or two ‘unitary authorities’.

There's a consultation of 'key stakeholders' going on at the moment - that doesn't include the general public or any community organisations - deadline 22nd June - with the Government announcing what we're going to get in July.

Of course - its outrageous

- its outrageous that the government is imposing this change without any sort of referendum, but then we did give them the 'wrong answer' on regional government, so we can't be trusted

- its outrageous that the County Council pre-empted any discussion by declaring they'd be bidding for a single unitary authority within hours of the Government announcement, and brought their Cabinet up to speed a few weeks later - and then fudged the full council decision

- its outrageous that the District Councils 'played the game' by counter-bidding with a two unitary model, again without any real consultation (though as a loyal member of CMBC Executive Board, I'm of course fully behind the two unitary bid)

- its outrageous that Government 'bottled it' and did not choose a single option for consultation, thereby blighting any chance of co-operative working between County and Districts for another six months

But outrage won't get us far... Some parties are suggesting a private referendum - but this would take £120,000 of tax payers money with no guarantee that the Government will pay it heed.

So - we must try to get the best out of what is on offer...

As we see it, this change is all about
  • more cost-effective centralised services
  • meeting the different needs of urban and rural Northumberland
  • and local accountability.

As a party, we feel that local accountability is most important and we’ll be looking to maximise this in all options under consideration.

And, whatever the outcome, the Town Council will become far more significant under unitary government so the results of this election are really important.

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