Avert catastrophe urges Franklin

WITH the final deadline for views about how Devon is governed just two weeks away, councils are making a last ditch attempt to convince residents that their vision of the future is the right one.

WITH the final deadline for views about how Devon is governed just two weeks away, councils are making a last ditch attempt to convince residents that their vision of the future is the right one.The Boundary Commission has proposed two options - both leading to the dissolution of the county's eight district councils.The first is a single council running the whole county; the second is one council administering 'rural' Devon, and another centred on Exmouth and Exeter.Both options exclude Plymouth and Torbay - and councils and residents have until May 14 to give their views.East Devon District Council has been against both proposals from the off - and even took it to the High Court and Appeal Court because the Commission was unwilling to consider the 'status quo' as an option.In a last ditch attempt to get the public on side, the council is urging people to write in, and Councillor Ray Franklin, Deputy Leader of EDDC, said: "A unitary Devon would mean a catastrophic erosion of democracy, with one councillor to every 7,400 people - the worst democratic representation in England, bar none. "The financial case for these two options has not been made and there are serious doubts as to whether the huge upfront costs would ever be recouped. "This radical change would mean a wholesale disruption of service delivery and a serious erosion of democracy in Devon."He said they had joined with other district councils to offer to a "Third Way" - by building on the current system where county, district and parish councils work more closely.However, one of those councils is not Exeter. They support the Exeter/Exmouth option and are also appealing to the public by sending out postcards encouraging people to fill in an online petition.Cllr Pete Edwards, Chairman of Exeter City Council's Local Government Review Committee, said: "A single Devon unitary of 750,000 people would give the worst democratic representation in the country. "Two unitaries offers the best balance of efficiency and local focus."We need people to get involved. Thousands supported a unitary authority for the city last time round and we need them to do so again for Greater Exeter. "We must make sure that the Boundary Committee hears loud and clear this time that a Greater Exeter with a rural Devon unitary is the option that best serves the needs of people across the county. This view has the support of all political parties on the City Council.


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